Sep 29, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Max Scherzer was the choice to be the ALDS Game 1 starter all along and, reading between the lines, Anibal Sanchez was very nearly tabbed to start Game 2 ahead of Justin Verlander. This according to a quote tweeted out by MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck.
We all wondered how the rotation would stack up, and it’s interesting to gain this (relatively small) insight into Leyland’s thought process. You could argue that perhaps Anibal Sanchez should have received some consideration for the top spot, but Scherzer was obviously a fine choice too. Leyland is often criticized for sticking with his favorites and sticking to pre-defined roles, but he didn’t hand anything to Verlander because of his former ace-of-the-world status.
Verlander ended up being slotted second, but in a five game series, where only one pitcher has a chance of making two starts, there really isn’t much of a difference between the second and third guys anyway. Scherzer rewarded Leyland’s faith in him by turning in a gem of a performance in Game 1, and it’s clear that he’ll be the guy Jim turns to to start the big games down the stretch.