Jim Leyland has a tough job, and clearly he is emotionally invested in it. He needs to prepare 25 players for the playoffs while optimizing their skills, health, and egos. This weekend, winning takes on less importance as all that remains to be earned is home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But his to-do list long. Here is some help, in case the champagne is still stinging his eyes.
Max Scherzer and Doug Fister: Skip the series, go home and rest.
Justin Verlander: You know you want that first hit of your career. You will pitch and hit on Sunday. You will be on a low pitch count of about 90. If you want multiple at bats, you need to establish command in the first inning and be efficient.
Anibal Sanchez: Throw five innings call it a day on Saturday. You have 21 hits in your career, so the batter's box is not foreign to you. Regardless, attempt to bunt on every pitch.
Rick Porcello: I know you would like to go for that 14th win tonight, and leave Verlander in last place in wins among the Tigers' starters. But we need you in relief in the playoffs. So tonight, Alvarez starts in your place. Be ready to come in mid-inning, probably both Friday night and Sunday. Figure out how to warm up in the bullpen in a hurry.
Bruce Rondon: Test that elbow again, we need to know if you are good to go in the playoffs.
Darin Downs: You made two good appearances in the past week and look healthy. Be ready to throw a bunch. There is playoff roster spot that may have your name on it.
Jeremy Bonderman: With the starters on a low pitch count, we may need you in long relief. Think of it as an audition so you can land a contract with another team next year.
Alex Avila: You need some at bats to stay sharp, but no foul balls off the mask. Start tonight with Alvarez taking Porcello's spot, but not on Sunday with Verlander scheduled.
Prince Fielder: You want to keep your consecutive games played streak going, so you can start. But plan on being pulled early for a pinch runner so we can practice stealing a base.
Jhonny Peralta: The Marlins are starting all right-handers, so the left field platoon will not be in play. But you need innings in left field, so you can start two games. In the other game, play third base to rest Cabrera and move to left field when a lefty comes in to face Dirks.
Miguel Cabrera: I know you always want to play, but rest. You can have a couple at bats to stay sharp, but you are not allowed to run. If you hit it to the gap, walk to first base. Plan on being out of the game by the fifth inning, if you play at all.
Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson: Bunt and steal a base at least once.
Torii Hunter: Rest. You may think you are 28 years old, but you need to save the legs. Prepare to play every inning in the playoffs.
Victor Martinez: Catch Sunday, with Verlander on the mound. That should shake any rust off the tools of ignorance.
Jose Iglesias: Please tell me the hand has healed. Play all three games. Bunt and steal at least once.
Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago: No worries, they are always ready.
Matt Tuiasosopo and Brayan Pena: You have been a big help, now is the time to be a cheerleader.
Hernan Perez: Pinch run and attempt to steal a base, in every game.