Tigers announce that lefty Jose Alvarez, not Rick Porcello, will start tonight’s game in Miami.
— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) September 27, 2013
It’s not an altogether surprising move. I suggested they do something to this effect ten days ago. The idea is that, with the division all wrapped up, the team would be better served to get Porcello used to pitching out of the bullpen for a couple of games instead of starting a (basically) meaningless game.
I think this signifies that they’re not looking for Rick to simply serve as a long reliever in the playoffs. If that was the case there would be no reason to scratch him from a start in the first place. I think this means that they’re going to transition him into more of a one-inning guy for October, and they want him to get used to how that feels. I would certainly be in support of using him in some high-ish leverage situations.
It’s fine that they’re going with Alvarez tonight, but I thought the team might instead opt to move everyone up a day. With Thursday as an off day it wouldn’t mean short rest for anyone, but it would allow Doug Fister to sneak in one more tune-up game. Not that he needs the extra practice, but, as it stands, it will be 14 days from his last start (September 24) to the first time he’ll be needed in the playoffs in Game 4 of the ALDS (October 8). Perhaps he’ll throw out of the bullpen on Sunday.