October 1st, 2013
The Tigers bullpen is going to be short for this AL Division Series. Both Bruce Rondon and Phil Coke appear to be out as they deal with their respective arm ailments.
“It looks like Rondon and Coke will not be available for the first round,” manager Jim Leyland said today.
Rondon said he has not yet started a throwing program. The Tigers are waiting for the soreness to go away before they embark on that plan. He still holds out hope he can get to that point and be ready for a potential role in the ALCS if the Tigers advance.
“Rondon would’ve been a nice piece,” Leyland said, “But hey, that’s the way it is.”
Rondon said his arm feels better now than it did the day after his outing in Minnesota, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches.
“It was difficult for me,” Rondon said through a translator, “because I thought I was going to feel good after [that game]. It was a great outing, but I felt discomfort again. It’s very disappointing.”
Coke was not available to talk with reporters.
Both injuries leave the Tigers with some decisions to make on their postseason rosters. Both, too, could put more responsibility on Al Alburquerque, whose slider makes him both a situational strikeout reliever and a weapon against left-handed hitters.
“The responsibility falls to a good situation if he’s right,” Leyland said of Alburquerque, “because left-handers hit about .195 off him for his career. That’s almost like having another left-hander.”
The mystery is settled: Max Scherzer will start Friday’s ALDS opener in Oakland, setting the rotation in order for the series. Justin Verlander will start Game 2, followed by Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister in Detroit.
Scherzer would start Game 5 if the series goes the distance.
“We’ve been talking about it ever since we clinched, tossing it around,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We just decided it in the last couple days.”
Pitching coach Jeff Jones notified the starters on Sunday in Miami.
“I truly feel like I could start any one of my guys [in the opener] and feel comfortable,” Leyland said.
That said, the first two games lend themselves to Scherzer and Verlander, both of whom have been stronger on the road this season, both of whom have a history of strong starts in tough environments. Scherzer went 12-1 at home, but his ERA was lower on the road (2.28) than at Comerica Park (3.55). Nearly all of his pure pitching stats were stronger away from Detroit, for that matter.
Scherzer pitched 5 1/3 innings in Oakland in Game 4 of last year’s ALDS, allowing an unearned run on three hits and striking out eight batters. Verlander, of course, came back the next night and tossed a complete-game shutout.
Verlander’s two outings last week at Minnesota at Miami further his home/road split. He’s 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA away from Detroit, compared with 6-7 with a 3.73 ERA at Comerica Park.