Justin Verlander was slated to start Games 1 and 5 of the World Series for the Tigers. And it's going to stay that way, despite Detroit getting into an early 2-0 hole against the Giants.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was asked on Thursday if the Detroit ace might return "early," in the event that the Tigers found themselves in a do-or-die situation. (Which is exactly what would happen in Game 4 if the Giants won Game 3 on Saturday.)
"Well, he's coming back in Game 5, I hope," Leyland said, per Eye on Baseball's Matt Snyder.
Leyland was then specifically asked if Verlander would return for Game 4.
"No," Leyland said.
The truth is it would be a silly gamble anyway. If the Tigers were to get down 3-0 and face a Giants sweep on Sunday, Verlander would be pitching on just three days rest. And he would be coming off of a bad outing where the Giants hammered him and he didn't have his best stuff.
Additionally, it's not like winning a Game 4 in that situation would do anything other than extend the series. Having one of the Tigers talented pitchers throw well in Game 4 and then have Verlander for Game 5.
The reality is the Tigers need their hitters to come alive once the series shifts back to Detroit more than they need Verlander to magically find a way to pitch seven games.
Of course, having said all of this, it's entirely possible that the Tigers will get down 3-0 and Leyland will turn to his ace on short rest. It's a guarantee that if the Tigers get down 3-0, Tigers fans and the media will call for Verlander to start Game 4.
But that doesn't make it the right move, and it's nice to see Leyland already recognizes that.