Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland may not be using Justin Verlander out of the bullpen in Game 5, but he's got another starter who he thinks can get the job done -- Max Scherzer.
"Scherzer is my Sabathia tonight," the veteran manager said shortly before Thursday's Game 5. "And I'm going to use Scherzer. But I'm not going to use Sabathia; I am not under any circumstances."
Leyland said Scherzer will be the first pitcher out of the bullpen on Thursday if Detroit needs a long man. The 27-year-old righty tossed six shutout innings to earn the win in his Game 3 start in the Bronx last Sunday. He allowed just two hits, walked four struck out five and hit a batter. He didn't allow a hit until one out into the sixth.
"Scherzer did a good job against this team, and he's rested," Leyland said.
Leyland surprised many on Wednesday when he said Verlander, the staff ace and presumptive American League Cy Young winner, will not be available out of the bullpen for Game 5.
"You can argue till the cows come home, I'm not going to do it. I don't think it's a wise decision," Leyland said Thursday, citing the number of pitches (120) Verlander threw on Monday and the velocity at which he threw them.
Verlander tossed a 56-pitch side session in the Tigers bullpen on Thursday afternoon. He told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that he had double-checked with Leyland before starting the session to make sure he would not be used later.
On the flip side, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said CC Sabathia will be ready to pitch -- if needed - - on Thursday night.
"It's a situation where you hope you don't have to use him, and you get to use him in Game 1 (of the ALCS). That's the bottom line. But if we need him, I'm going to use him," Girardi said.
Girardi noted that Sabathia would need more time to warm up than a traditional reliever, so it may be difficult to insert him in the middle of an inning.
"It's kind of a gut feeling when to use him," Girardi said.
Sabathia has plenty of experience pitching on short rest. He has taken the mound seven times on three days' rest or fewer (regular season and postseason included).
Both Sabathia and Verlander pitched Monday night in Game 3. Verlander threw 120 pitches in eight innings in the Tigers' 5-4 win. Sabathia threw 106 pitches in 5 1/3 innings.
The two aces also opposed one another in Game 1 last Friday. Sabathia threw 27 pitches over two innings before the game was suspended due to rain. Verlander tossed 25 in one inning.