Verlander won't throw again in ALCS, but Porcello is available
But there’s also no question that Verlander will be with them only as a cheerleader, unless they move on.
“If you see Verlander pitch again this year, it will be a good thing, because we’ll be in the World Series. ... He will not pitch in this series. He’s done,” said Leyland, who has ridden his horse for an MLB-high 20.1 innings and 360 pitches in the postseason.
“And if we don’t go on, he threw his last pitch for the season. If we go on, obviously, if we’re fortunate enough to go on, he would pitch Game 1 of the World Series. But you will not see Verlander out of the bullpen tomorrow (in Game 7).”
Verlander, of course threw a MLB-high 3,941 pitches (next closest was LA’s Dan Haren with 167 fewer) and 251 innings. Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo has thrown the second-most pitches in the postseason (313).
Even so, Verlander probably considers himself ready.
“I’ll be ready to go next time whether that’s Game 7 out of the bullpen or Game 1 of the World Series. Hopefully it’s Game 1 of the World Series. But whenever Skip needs me, I’m ready,” Verlander said after throwing a career-high 135 pitches in Thursday’s Game 5 win.
You figure conversations between Leyland and Verlander may sometimes go like this:
“Skip, I can pitch if you need me.”
“Skip, I can pitch if you need ...”
“Skip, I can ...”
One of the times that Verlander pestered him near the end of the regular season, Leyland jokingly said, “You’ve been so good this year, why don’t you manage the team?”
Even though he said that he and Leyland don’t always see eye-to-eye on these types of matters, Verlander understands who the boss is, and who makes the decisions.
“He got a lot of flack for not having me in the bullpen for Game 5 in Yankee Stadium. It worked out pretty well. Myself, our team, we have the utmost faith in him, in his decision making,” Verlander said earlier this week. “Whenever my number is called is when I go out there.”
Rick Porcello might be a different story. Friday, Leyland said the fourth playoff starter might be good for a bit of relief in Game 7, should the Tigers get there. Saturday, he amended it to note that Porcello would be available out of the bullpen in Game 6, if needed, as he was in Game 1.
So will Phil Coke — Game 5’s relief ace — and a rested Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde.
“Porcello is raring and ready to go. I said (Friday) I probably wasn’t going to use him. But I was at the park with him at that time, and he hadn’t done anything yet. After he did his workout and everything, he said he felt great. His arm feels great. So I will use him,” Leyland said.
“I can’t tell you how I’m going to use him. It’s a feel. As the game goes on, you see what is developing, you might need a ground ball to get a double play, you might use him. I can’t tell you exactly how the game is going to play out.”
And Leyland is well aware that there’s no point in keeping secrets in the postseason.
“There’s no secrets. I can see once in a while if you were may be thinking what you said at a press conference might maybe possibly make a manager write out his lineup a little differently,” Leyland said. “But Ron (Washington, the Rangers’ manager) is going to do what he wants to do. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m telling you that Verlander is not going to pitch tomorrow. What does that mean? How does that help Texas? I don’t think it has anything to do with Texas. It’s (Doug) Fister that’s going to have something to do with tomorrow.
“I just don’t think there’s a lot of secrets at this point. Maybe there are. Maybe I am dumb. I don’t know.”
But he does know that Verlander will not be throwing again in Texas, that’s for sure.