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Verlander to Join the Big Club

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This has been covered in the diaries and the comments, but I wanted to give it the front-page treatment. The Ann Arbor News' Danny Knobler writes:

Yes, Verlander is pitching Monday, but for now it will be a 1-shot deal. They need an extra starter because of the day-night doubleheader. We'll see what happens after that. I know a lot of you guys want to think this means a trade is coming. Not necessarily. Here's the thing: They need a sixth starter Monday. They don't want to start Ginter, who has been only average in two starts in Toledo and wasn't too good while here. There's no one else in Toledo who can start, either. Also, Verlander is already on the 40-man roster, and they've already used an option on him this year. So what happens if he pitches well? If nothing else, it speeds up the process. They're not all that committed to Douglass as the 5th starter. If Douglass (Saturday) and Verlander (Monday) both pitch well, logic says Verlander goes back to the minors for now.

Verlander is all the rage. He's been touted by ESPN.com and Baseball America recently, and he has torn through the low minors like the second coming of Roger Clemens. Tiger fans are getting justifiably excited about his arrival, so why not bring him up for one start and one start only on the day the Tigers need a sixth starter, especially given how important the next stretch of games could be? Well, here's why not:

  • Verlander is only 22 and in his first full year of pro ball. Yes, he's a possible stud in the making, but given that, shouldn't our priority be whatever helps him best develop? I'm sure he's still working on a few things, and I can't think that it's going to help him to jump two levels so soon after his last promotion. Forget psychological damage from getting shelled in the majors -- I can't speculate about about how someone I don't know will respond emotionally to something that hasn't happened -- but what about his athletic development? Jumping him up to the majors and then back might not hurt, but it certainly doesn't help

  • Verlander will need to change his normal schedule to pitch on Monday. He'll throw an inning today instead of starting. I think we want to set this kid up to succeed, and messing up his normal rhythm is not the way to do it.

  • The start is at Cleveland, against the hottest team in the majors.

  • There are other alternatives, lots of them: Ginter, Baugh, Ledezma.

I think the Tigers are pulling out all the stops to save 2005, and that's admirable. I also think it's unlikely that anything hugely negative will come out of Verlander's one day in the majors. Mostly I don't like that the team is willing to jerk around its best prospect to give itself a very marginally increased chance of staying in the pennant race.