Detroit – Needing to pull out all the stops to avoid elimination in the first round of the playoffs, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Max Scherzer “possibly” could pitch out of the bullpen today in Game 4 of their Division Series against the Athletics.
Down 2-1 in the best-of-five series, Leyland said before today’s game that Scherzer appearing in relief was only being considered.
“I won’t risk anything,” he said, “and I know this will become treated like a big story, but it’s possible.”
Scherzer’s availability depends on how he feels after he throws before the game, but knowing how important the situation is, it’s unlikely he’ll say, “Nope, can’t do it.”
Scherzer started Game 1 on Friday in Oakland, so he’ll be pitching on three days of rest if needed. But Leyland can afford to consider such a situation because, if the Tigers win today, they can start Justin Verlander in Game 5 on the normal four-day rest.
“I won’t do anything unless he’s feeling great and it’s a no-brainer,” Leyland said about using Scherzer. “But I’m going to lean on the cautious side.
“If everything isn’t exactly right, and the stars aren’t lined up, I would never do it or take a chance. I wouldn’t risk anybody, let alone Max Scherzer.
“I haven’t had a lot of luck bringing a starter out (in relief). We’ll see.”
If Scherzer isn’t used in relief, and the Tigers win, he will start Game 5 with Verlander being available out of the bullpen.
Having a potential Cy Young Award winning starter as an available relief pitcher is an attractive possibility for Leyland, though.
“I’m hoping I got Max Scherzer,” he said. “He might be able to pitch a couple of innings if necessary. It’s obvious we have to win this one today if we want to play a Game 5.
“It’s very unlikely that I would put him in if we were behind. It’s a possibility I would put him in for maybe the seventh and eighth and Doug (Fister) was out of gas.
“But the pitching situation is really not an issue.”
Compared to the Tigers’ lack of offense, that is.