Friday, October 20, 2006

Verlander, The Gambler, Robertson, and Bonderman

Those 4 pitchers are the main reason the Tigers are now in the World Series, not necessarily in that order. That's also the Tigers' series rotation, in that order. I can only guess as to the Marlboro Man's reasoning for switching things up, but here goes...

First off, the Tigers best pitchers all season have been Rogers and Verlander. Without question. So why not start your best in games 1 and 2 of the series, especially when the Cardinals are scrambling for a starter for the opener? No one is expecting Carpenter or Suppan to be available for the Cards till the series moves to St. Louis. So no matter who the Cards start in games 1 and 2, the Tigers will have the better of the that pitching matchup.

You could have plugged in any of the Tiger rotation, and you wouldn't have had an arguement from me. Still, Jason Verlander starting game one is a bit of a head scratcher. Not due to his talent, of course, as he may just be the best pitcher on the staff. But starting a rookie, no matter how good he might be, is a risky propasition. Then again, Verlander threw well at Yankee Stadium, and there isn't a much bigger playoff stage than that. The Tiger braintrust must see something in the matchups. We all know that Verlander throws extremely hard, and after a long, tiring 7 game series, let alone season, the thought may be that the Cardinals will have issues getting around on his 100 MPH heater.

The media has been saying that the Gambler was a lock to be the game 2 starter. They were right on, for once. It's obvious that Leyland wants Kenny Rogers' possible 2 starts to be at Comerica. He's been absolutely dominant at home, unhittable in the postseason. Just as big a reason may be the huge home field advantage the Tigers have developed with Rogers on the mound. He's yelled, screamed, and fist pumped his way into the hearts of Tiger fans. The Gamlber has been like a rock star, as demonstrative as a strutting Mick Jagger while pitching. Well, maybe not quite that extreme... But when compared to the mild mannered Rogers of the regular season, I think you get my drift. Rogers is feeding off of the crowd's emotion, and vice versa. Comerica will be a snake pit with the Gamber pitching.

Nate Robertson has started the road opener in both the ALDS and ALCS. He struggled some with the Yankees, but pitched well against the A's. No reason to change now. Robertson is a veteran with a bulldog mentality, and as cliche' of a term as it may be, it is true. Robertson is a much better bet to not get rattled starting in front of a rabid Busch Stadium crowd.

As well as Jeremy Bonderman has pitched, I'm sure there are still concerns as to his mental makeup. We have all seen his propensity to be shaky early in games, witness his jittery 1st inning in ALCS game 4. Starting Bonderman in game 4 of the World Series will allow the Tigers to put the least amount of pressure on him. Unless the worst case scenario comes about, the Tigers going down 0-3. God forbid... Then all bets are off, obviously.

As it's set currently, you'll have Verlander pitching games 1 and 5, the Gambler in games 2 and 6, Robertson starts games 3 and 7, and Bonderman finally appears in game 4. You could argue that in a long series, you might prefer Bonderman getting 2 starts, rather than Robertson. But who's to say Bonderman couldn't start game 7 on short rest? Let alone the fact that he should be available to pitch in relief late in the series, if need be.

Any way you might dissect it, you have to like how the pitching , and the World Series itself, is setting up in the Tigers favor.

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