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 Leyland tweaks rotation to rest 'pen

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PostSubject: Leyland tweaks rotation to rest 'pen   Sun Jun 21, 2009 5:27 pm

Leyland tweaks rotation to rest 'pen
Manager makes strategic change following Figaro's callup

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

06/21/09 12:40 PM ET

DETROIT -- The Tigers are going to break up one of baseball's best back-to-back starting tandems. Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson will no longer pitch one after the other in Detroit's rotation, part of a shuffling that manager Jim Leyland hopes will allow them to ease their bullpen and account for two rookie starters.

Verlander, who started Sunday's series finale against the Brewers, will switch places with Alfredo Figaro on the next turn through the rotation. That'll put Verlander pitching Friday's series opener at Houston on his normal four days' rest, and Figaro pitching Saturday on six days' rest after his Major League debut. Jackson will then start Sunday.

Though rookie Rick Porcello entered Sunday leading the Tigers in victories, Jackson and Verlander have been the workhorse starters. While Verlander leads the league in strikeouts, only Kansas City's Zack Greinke owns a lower ERA among American League starters than Jackson, who also ranks third in WHIP and fourth in hits per nine innings.

The success of Verlander and Jackson, and their ability to pitch deep into games, has allowed the Tigers to be careful with the 20-year-old Porcello's pitch counts.

Allowing Jackson to keep pitching in front of Porcello should leave the bullpen at close to full strength when the rookie makes his starts. More importantly, it breaks up a back end of the rotation that has struggled with inconsistency and left Tigers relievers eating up innings for two, sometimes three consecutive days. Armando Galarraga has just three quality starts in 10 outings since going 3-0 in April. Figaro just replaced Dontrelle Willis, whose control woes left him facing some early exits even before he walked eight batters over 3 2/3 innings last Sunday at Pittsburgh.

"We feel we have two horses back-to-back," Leyland said. "That's a huge plus. But now, we also have Figaro, Porcello and Galarraga pitching back-to-back-to-back. So how much is that going to tax your bullpen? That's what you have to be concerned about. The truth of the matter is, in this game, if you're pitching your bullpen because you have to, you're in trouble. If it's because you want to, you're usually in pretty good shape."

As a rookie, Figaro will be monitored to some extent going forward. He pitched five innings of two-run ball in Saturday's 9-5 win over the Brewers. Still, he's older with more pro experience than Porcello.

"This kid's a talented kid, but he's a kid," Leyland said Friday.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Leyland tweaks rotation to rest 'pen   Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:06 pm

Go Figaro!
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