Why no Scherzer on short rest

The Dodgers saw a chance to finish off the Braves in L.A., went against the trend and pushed their ace, Clayton Kershaw, up to pitch Game 4 on short rest. His quality start, albeit matched by Freddy Garcia of all pitchers, raised the question among some fans whether Tigers manager Jim Leyland might opt to do the same and move up Max Scherzer to start on three days’ rest and throw the Scherzer-Verlander tandem at the A’s to try to clinch. I can’t see it happening, for a few reasons:

1. Doug Fister isn’t the problem.

When the Dodgers bumped up Kershaw, they were doing so in place of Ricky Nolasco, who struggled badly down the stretch in the regular season (17 earned runs on 24 hits over 12 innings in his last three starts). Fister averaged seven innings in five September starts and posted a 3.00 ERA for the month, His numbers against Oakland are very good except for the 13-hit, five-inning, seven-run debacle in August, and he wasn’t the only pitcher the A’s roughed up in that series.

Fister’s postseason stats, moreover, reflect a pitcher who’s very comfortable on this stage. He’s 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA in six playoff outings since 2011. He gave up three earned runs over 19 1/3 innings in three postseason outings last year. He has a win in an elimination game, having topped the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS.

The Tigers’ concerns aren’t with Fister. It’s with the offense trying to provide him run support.

2. Jim Leyland hasn’t started a pitcher on short rest.

This debate has come up before. Google “Justin Verlander short rest” and you can see the previous cases. It came up during last year’s World Series. It came up during the ALCS two years ago. It came up down the stretch in 2009, when Alfredo Figaro made his infamous spot start against the White Sox on the next-to-last day of the regular season. Go back to 2006, and Leyland started then-rookie Verlander in Game 5 rather than moving up Kenny Rogers (who could’ve started on regular rest in that one, thanks to a rainout). Debate all you want whether Leyland should have started his ace in those cases, but he has been consistent with this. Leyland hasn’t started his guys on short rest. He takes a lot of pride in not getting his starting pitchers injured, and this is part of it with him.

3. Scherzer extended his outing near the end of Game 1.

Scherzer takes a lot of pride in his final 15 pitches, having enough left in his arm to finish off an outing. Usually that means well-located fastballs. In the case of Game 1, however, manager Jim Leyland was checking on him after Yoenis Cespedes’ home run on his 105th pitch of the night. He retired the side from there on 13 pitches, but ended up with 118 on the night. With that outing, too, he pushed his innings total to 221 1/3 on the season, already topping his totals from last year and 2011.

That said, Kershaw came back on short rest after throwing 124 pitches in Game 1 of Dodgers-Braves. Don Mattingly took him out at 91 pitches over six innings last night, leaving in a 2-2 game. It would be difficult to see Scherzer, or any Tigers pitcher, going 100 pitches on short rest, which would leave the Tigers bullpen to cover the rest.

4. The stats don’t support it.

You probably heard these stats already in the Kershaw debate, but here they are again from Gerry Fraley:

Keep in mind, that was before Kershaw’s performance, which would better that ERA a bit but not the record. As for team records, here was Ken Rosenthal’s info from yesterday (again not including Kershaw):

Now, as others have pointed out, Kershaw is in a different category than a lot of those guys who make up those statistics. This season for Scherzer arguably does as well, even though he doesn’t have the same track record as Scherzer. At the same time, though, managers don’t tend to want to see bad pitchers pitch sooner.

5. It’s the Division Series.

There’s a long way to go this postseason. And if the Tigers are fortunate enough to beat the A’s the next two games and advance, they have a lot of long outings ahead. While one can argue that you worry about the next round when you get there, there’s some planning that has to go into it. And there’s risk and reward to weigh.

If the Tigers get through this, they have a chance to set up their rotation for the ALCS to have Verlander starting Games 1 and 5. Scherzer, meanwhile, could come back to start Game 3 on regular rest and be in line for a potential Game 7.

12 Comments

I have no problem with Doug being out there – our hitters have to hit. Yesterday was rough since we did get a few runs finally and Anibal had a rough outing – talk about poor timing but it happens. Will be leaving in a few hours for the game – sure hope I bring them some luck – was hoping to watch us win and celebrate winning the series but now am just hoping for a win to keep the season going for another game at least. We hit – we win – enough said.

Just in case we get by the As, Fister would have to pitch him eventually. Fister has the ability to throw a gem.

There’s no way you start Scherzer on short rest in THIS scenario. Some of the other scenarios mentioned in Jason’s post are another matter.
The pitching rotation is not an issue here.
I hope Jason’s detailed explanation puts the idea to rest.

TG, hope you will caught up in pure Tiger rapture today at the park. Good luck.

Great bunch of guys we have on this team. The mission is to get them playing together (departmentally and individually). When they do that they are intimidating.
One game……O-N-E game can turn things around. Oakland has the swag now and are playing like it. Totally confident in themselves and each other.
A punishing loss for them today can have them doubting themselves and looking like, well, looking like we do right now. Dazed, confused, beaten, stunned.
We have to play better every single inning.. right now Rod Allen’s “best hitting team in baseball” has less than a 7% chance of actually scoring a run in any one inning.

If Leyland has AJ leading off then it will tell me all I need to know about him.

this team will ride the horse that got them here

to play devils advocate here: If you want the offense to pick up you put Max in there….he does have the better support numbers. #tailwaggingdogs_logic

chew on that fellas

Cargo cult science

No Max for me.
He’s not used to it. He finished with a dead arm last year. He needs the regularity (unless it is the last game of ,THE series).
More importantly is discarding the mentality that everything will work out if you keep doing things the same. JL has a a marathon approach to 50 yard dash.
If there are problems in the season his solution is to say that it is a long season.
It ain’t any more.
AJ can get streaky hot. we know that. But do you give this man an extra at bat at the end of a game?
There is no way he should be leading off with his numbers. too many Ks not enough stolen bases or 1st to 3rds. Will not drop down a bunt, even though it has worked in the past.
If nothing else—JL needs to change that up for Today’s game. Far more likely he will not “go there”. This is not a creative manager.

Elimination game. Do or die. Mr. Fister needs to have that cyclonic twister working so he can tie up the LHBs. Please do not look at what happened to him on Aug 28th against the As. It must be an awfully short leash for him with Porcello and Putkonen ready to follow him.

You can bet your booty that Drew Smyly will be warning up along with Porcello.

We just faced Straily in August with little success. The guys who hit him were OI, TH, MC, and VM. Dan, you are spot on. I’m not sure but what we could see AJ out of the lineup. This is an elimination game.

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