At Home Plate: Despite shaky start, Verlander still a force in World Series

I guess he’s human after all.

After Justin Verlander’s rough outing in the Tigers’ World Series Game 1 8-3 loss, the San Francisco Giants may have gained some confidence in beating Detroit’s ace. But it’s a long series, and even though Verlander is human, he’s still better than most pitchers in the game.

Since the Tigers only needed four games to knock off the New York Yankees in the ALCS, Verlander had a full week of rest before Game 1. Though Detroit currently has Max Scherzer penciled in for Game 4, Verlander could be available to come back on three days rest, especially since he only lasted four innings.

Justin Verlander (Photo by SD_Dirk, used under Creative Commons License)

Justin Verlander (Photo by SD_Dirk, used under Creative Commons License)

Meanwhile, the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals went to Game 7, which Giants ace Matt Cain pitched. Cain is not slated to make a start until Game 4, but he could be pushed up to Game 3 on full rest.

Still, at the very most, Cain would only start two games in this series. If needed, Verlander could possibly start two more as well.

Depending on how the next two games shape up, Jim Leyland may decide to save Verlander for Game 5. If the Tigers have a 2-1 series lead, it might be in their best interest to save their prized hurler.

But if the Tigers are down 2-1 or even 3-0, expect Verlander to get the ball in Game 4.

From there, we would have to wait and see how the series turns for a potential Game 7. But just based on rest, a Verlander-Cain Game 7 is out of the question.

If Verlander starts Game 4 on three days rest, then he’d be eligible to start Game 7 on three days rest. But luckily for the Tigers, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Scherzer have all pitched very well this postseason.

For the Giants, Game 2 will be telling. Madison Bumgarner, who was pulled from the rotation in the NLCS, will get the ball. The Giants will then follow with the hot hand of Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3 and Cain in Game 4.

Verlander’s Game 1 performance was very uncharacteristic, so he’ll make the adjustments for whenever he next toes the rubber. The Giants have some great arms in their rotation, but when Verlander is on his game, he’s in a class of his own.

The Tigers will need Verlander to get back to form in his next start. Ideally, the Tigers win at least one of the next two games, which would then allow manager Jim Leyland to have some flexibility.

But Leyland has to give Verlander the start if the Tigers are facing elimination after three games.

The pitching probables may change after a few more games, but even Verlander on three days rest is a scary thought.

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