I don’t know how the World Series is going to end. The Tigers could easily get wins from Jeremy Bonderman in game four and Kenny Rogers in game six to force a game seven. What I do know is that Jim Leyland “dropped the ball” big-time by limiting Bonderman to one start in the series. The Tigers have had two remarkable pitchers in the playoffs in Rogers and Bonderman. Justin Verlander wasn’t good in game one of the World Series and he wasn’t good in his previous two playoff starts either. In fact, Verlander hasn’t been consistent since July. Why would Leyland make him the starter for game one with two months of shady pitching to show for it?
Whether Verlander or Nate Robertson should have gotten slotted for two starts is a tough call. I could have understood either decision. Whether both should have been slotted for two starts is definitely not a tough call. In game one against the Cardinals, Verlander did exactly what he had done against the Yankees and A’s; he struggled. Now, the Tigers find themselves in a 2-1 hole with another start from Verlander and the potential for another Robertson/Carpenter match-up both of which are unappealing at best.
I don’t know how Bonderman is going to pitch tomorrow. I do know that over the last month, he has pitched considerably better than both Robertson and Verlander. Outside of Rogers, he gives the Tigers the best chance of winning by a long shot. I don’t know why he wasn’t put in a position to pitch two games. In fact, I don’t know why he wasn’t put in a position to pitch two games in the Oakland series. Had Bonderman pitched game one, he would have been slated to pitch against Anthony Reyes in a pivotal game five. He also would have had a chance at coming away with a win in game one at home where he has been fantastic in the playoffs. Not only would it have given the Tigers their best shot at winning the Series, Bonderman earned the chance to pitch twice based on his previous performances. Instead, Bonderman only gets one start in the series and it’s on the road. I don’t know what Leyland could have gained by doing this but it irritated me a week ago and it irritates me now.
I don’t mind seeing the Tigers lose but when they aren’t going down with their best on the mound, it sucks to watch. This was the worst and most inexplicable decision Leyland made this year and it could very well cost the Tigers a shot at the WS. If the Tigers’ bats don’t get going, it’s a moot point but Verlander fell apart two months ago. Bonderman has been on fire. It just doesn’t make sense.