The idea seems to be mentioned more than it should be: Justin Verlander should be sent to the bullpen when the Tigers reach the postseason. Here's the highest-profile example, via MLB Network's resident saberist:
Great idea from @MrStats50 : Verlander to 'pen. Really. Let him be this year's Lincecum. #SuperReliever— Brian Kenny (@MrBrianKenny) September 20, 2013
To which I say: no. Actually, I said a lot more than that, because my editors prefer the story be longer than the headline. But no should have sufficed, right?
Read the column at the News.
I didn't use sabermetrics much in the column -- I try to keep too many new acronyms out and the only thing that can happen if I used WAR is a big ol comment bomb.
But I did find it interesting that a sabermetric enthusiast like Brian Kenny would endorse the idea of moving Verlander to the bullpen in the postseason.
Here's a stat I could have used but didn't: 4.5.
4.5 is Justin Verlander's Fangraphs WAR, 10th among starters in the game.
3.0 is Rick Porcello's fWAR, which happens to fall much lower on the list.
Obviously you can't allow WAR to make decisions for you -- that is something I've preached on this site. You probably shouldn't let win-loss record make your choice for you either. If you did, of course, Porcello would be your postseason starter. The Tigers have won five of his last six starts, while they've lost nine of Verlander's last 12.
I suppose you could just fall back on old reliable: Verlander's ERA is better. Or, truly, you don't even have to go that far. Verlander is better.
Does anyone actually think Porcello is a better pitcher than Verlander? I hope not.
Verlander is in the postseason rotation. Porcello is back in the bullpen, just as he was (and pretty effectively so) during the past two years.
This isn't that hard. Don't overthink it.
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