Denny McLain: Verlander’s Durability Key to World Series Title

Two months ago I stated in this column that the race was over in the Tigers’ Division.  Of course it totally is, with less than 20 games to go, what the hell could happen now? My God we are scoring touchdowns and pitchers are tossing shutouts. How well are we doing? Inge had three hits and is now hitting .192!  Are we on a roll or what?

About two months ago after we had made some significant trades and after Carlos Guillen came back to stabilize the infield, to keep everyone calm, I stated then that the race for our division was over.

It was easy. All of a sudden Guillen was back, Inge was farmed out, we had traded for a real second ace in Doug Fister, and of course we all of a sudden have a real hitting major league third baseman in Betamin.

It was over and done, but now guess what?

This team now has made so many trades and most of these guys all of a sudden are having career years if not career streaks, everyone is “hot” at the same time.

Austin Jackson has become Willie Mays in his prime, hitting and fielding and Alex Avila behind the plate (while not the best mechanics of any catcher I have seen) can really play the game and is hitting like he is in “heat.” Whatever the hell he is eating and doing, he better keep doing it.  He has been awesome. Boesch is now out for the rest of the year.  They won’t miss him as much as they once would.  The Tigers are a mean, lean, run-scoring machine now with or without Boesch.

My question is: in the postseason, will the Tigers allow Justin Verlander to pitch on two days rest or three days rest? If he does not pitch totally out of his rotation schedule they can’t win it.

Fister is as good as he can be.  He reminds me a lot of Doyle Alexander, who came in the famous John Smoltz trade and the Tigers went on to play like barn burners, although Doyle did not have the quality “Stuff” that Fister possesses at times.  Fister can be overwhelming with the “Art of Pitching.”  At 6’ 8” by the time he releases the baseball to the hitter he is only about 52 feet from the hitter which is a huge advantage for a pitcher.

There is something to say about being in the playoffs.  All gloves are off and all hands must be on deck. A team must use its stars to win it. Verlander must pitch in an uncomfortable rotation during the playoffs or the Tigers won’t win it — unless the “Hitting Machine” just keeps scoring seven or more runs per game.

The Tigers must also weigh whether the risk of putting Verlander out on the mound more often in pursuit of a World Series championship is worth the risk to his future.

Folks, it’s a NO BRAINER! You play the game to play in a World Series and Win the World Series.  Verlander must pitch as often as he can.  That means on two days’ rest.

Lolich and I both pitched in the 1968 series three times on two days’ rest.  Mickey won all three of his starts, going nine complete innings each game, including the 7th and deciding game. And both of us had pitched a zillion innings that year. There is no thinking process in the World Series. You go out and do whatever you have to do to win the Series, end of story! The Fans have paid and paid all year, despite when the club looked like an AAA team for a while; our Fans deserve to have every chance to win the entire Enchilada.

4 replies on “Denny McLain: Verlander’s Durability Key to World Series Title

  • Bill Dow

    Great insights as usual Denny. It has been very nice to get your perspective on the Tigers. When Verlander receives the Cy Young award, and possibly the MVP award, I hope the Tigers invite you and Willie Hernandez to be there for the on-field presentation since you are the only Tiger pitchers to receive baseball’s most prestigious player awards.

  • Cecilia

    Dear Mr. McLain,

    I agree with you that it is a no-brainer to use your best pitcher as often as you can in the World Series. However, there are two rounds of playoffs before you get to the Series, and sometimes a manager has to choose between using that best pitcher in the last game of a round or the first game of the next round. That’s not an easy thing to decide. And that’s where having a second reliable pitcher, like Mr. Fister, is so important. It really helps to not have that huge drop-off in talent from one pitcher to the next available pitcher.

  • Rob Graham

    Serioulsly Denny what are you smoking? Your Austin Jackson comparison to Willie Mays in his prime? That comment deserves a bucket of ice water over your head.

  • Alex Piotrowski

    Dear Mr. McClain,
    Tigers so far are 5-1. Could this be the start of another year like when the Tigers started off 35-5?

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