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Blaming Jim Leyland Is Nonsense

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Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

2005-0308-dt-wojnowski126 K) Bob Wojnowski
Bob "Wojo" Wojnowski has covered sports in Detroit since before the...
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Lots of baseball debates are fun, even more fun when beer-fueled. But we’re one game into the Tigers season and we’ve already stumbled across the dumbest debate ever.

Listen, people. It’s a long season. Get a grip.

If you think Jim Leyland made the wrong move pulling Justin Verlander after eight innings for closer Jose Valverde, then we have nothing to talk about. Go away. Don’t waste my time.
The move was a 99.999999 percent no-brainer. Verlander had thrown 105 pitches in the first game of the season and the Tigers had a 2-0 lead over the Red Sox. I don’t necessarily agree with strict pitch limits — Leyland set Verlander’s at 110 — but I do agree with using a closer that was a mere 49-for-49 the previous season.

Of course, there was no way Valverde was going to be perfect in save situations again. And he blew it, although the Tigers rallied to win in the ninth, 3-2. Verlander pitched eight shutout innings. He was spectacular. And while this victory was stolen from him individually, he sure didn’t seem to mind.

If the Tigers had a shaky bullpen, maybe Leyland gives Verlander a shot to close it out. If this was an August game, maybe Leyland gives Verlander a shot to close it out. If Valverde was 39-for-49 instead of 49-for-49 last season, maybe Leyland gives Verlander a shot to close it out.
Baseball is a game of percentages. It’s one reason I hate bunts in most situations, because percentages show, surrendering an out usually isn’t cost-effective.

Here’s what I’m hearing from some fans (not a majority): What if the Tigers had lost that game?!
Here’s my response: What if Verlander had started the ninth, gotten into trouble and lost the game?!

Fans would’ve roasted Leyland for not using his “perfect” closer in an ideal save situation. Stop wasting your breath, and my time, with this nonsense.

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