Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Leyland sets rotation for rest of Series; La Russa flexible

October 27, 2006


— Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland ended the speculation regarding his World Series rotation Thursday. As for St. Louis, Tony La Russa would only say who's starting Game 5 - beyond that, circumstances will decide.

Leyland, who refused to discuss his pitching plans beyond Game 4 starter Jeremy Bonderman after Wednesday's rainout, said the order of his starters for the final three games would be Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson. That ended the talk that Rogers, who threw eight scoreless innings in Game 2, might move up ahead of Verlander to Game 5 if the Tigers faced elimination.

Verlander allowed six earned runs in five innings in Game 1.

"It was not a tough decision at all," Leyland said while walking to Detroit's clubhouse after his news conference before Game 4. "People can have a field day with it and second-guess me, but the bottom line is we have to win three more games."

"So, we're going with Verlander, Rogers and Robertson."

La Russa settled on Jeff Weaver for Game 5 after sending both Weaver and rookie Anthony Reyes to the interview room Wednesday. Weaver would have been pitching on three days' rest for the first time, but the Cardinals' third rainout of the postseason removed that factor.

Weaver also had been set to go on three days' rest in Game 5 of the NL championship series before another rainout in St. Louis. He allowed three runs in five innings in Game 2 and has two postseason victories.

"The way he's pitched for us makes sense to go," La Russa said. "And we keep Anthony ready for whatever we need."

Beyond Game 5, the Cardinals will allow the results to dictate their choices. Reyes, who threw a light bullpen session, could be the Game 6 starter. Or ace Chris Carpenter could pitch Game 6 on three days' rest.

"We'll be consistent," La Russa said. "We know we're going to play two more games, and then see how our staff shakes out."

The kicker: The Cardinals don't want to subject Reyes, 25, to the pressure of a Game 7 start. No matter how well he pitched in Game 1, the team remains haunted by the Rick Ankiel meltdown in 2000, when the rookie became the first pitcher in 110 years to throw five wild pitches in one postseason inning. Ankiel now is a minor-league outfielder in the St. Louis organization.

More inclement weather also could affect pitching choices the rest of the way. With enough rain, Game 4 starter Jeff Suppan could be used again.

"There's not a great forecast in Detroit, or tomorrow," Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "We'll see what the weather does."

Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said he and Verlander worked on his mechanics in an effort to improve his velocity. The rookie fireballer, who usually throws several 100 mph pitches in every start but was in the mid-90s in Game 1, and said the biggest adjustment is with leg drive.

Fatigue could be a factor. Twice, including his last scheduled start, the Tigers skipped the 23-year-old Verlander in the rotation.

"Justin did his usual work between starts and everything seems fine with him," Leyland said.


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