Notes: Leyland mulling playoff pitchers

Notes: Leyland mulling playoff pitchers

KANSAS CITY -- As Jim Leyland talked to reporters Sunday morning, his Tigers still had not yet clinched a playoff spot. Yet while the champagne was still on ice, the gears already were warming up on planning for the postseason.

How the Tigers fared Sunday in clinching a playoff berth will affect what Leyland does with his rotation for the final weekend of the regular season. Even then, it's not an easy decision, and it wouldn't be decided at least until Leyland and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez had a chance Sunday evening to discuss what to do with the staff.

"I'd be lying if I didn't tell you we had some thoughts," Leyland said. "If we happen to get in today, however it may be, then I'll probably sit with Chuck on the plane."

The upcoming week's rotation depends a lot on what the Tigers want to do for a postseason rotation. But at the same time, how the Tigers play out their playoff pitching order depends on who they'll face in the Division Series, which depends in large part on how the Tigers fare over the last week of the season. At the moment, it's all going in a cycle.

All Leyland knows is that he expects to carry 11 pitchers on his playoff roster, which likely means four starters and seven relievers. And there's not even a definite answer on who tops the staff.

"I don't have a definite No. 1," Leyland said.

If the Tigers win the American League Central and host the A's in the Division Series, Leyland admitted he'd probably start Kenny Rogers and put his 21-7 career record against Oakland to the test -- potentially twice in a five-game series if the series goes the distance. With that in mind, Rogers will start Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays in what would've been Wilfredo Ledezma's spot.

If the Tigers end up with the Wild Card and open the Division Series at Yankee Stadium, however, Leyland hinted he could start someone else in the Bronx, where Rogers is 0-2 with a 9.82 in four starts since leaving the Yankees in 1998.

Beyond that, the Tigers have to determine whether to start Jeremy Bonderman in Sunday's regular-season finale against Kansas City or let him rest after Tuesday's start to focus on the postseason. For now, that's all a matter for the coming days.

"I just want to get in," Leyland said. "We'll take our chances. Hopefully we'll have it set up the best way to go. You always leave yourself open for second-guessing, but I don't have any problem with that, either, because that's fun for people. Should I have pitched this guy? Should I have pitched that guy? Obviously you have your reasons, but they may not be right."

Polanco feels fine: Placido Polanco said he didn't feel much soreness at all from his start Saturday night, his first game back since separating his left shoulder Aug. 15.

"It is surprising," Polanco said. "I thought it would be real sore today."

How Polanco felt after his start, Leyland said, would have some effect on how he'd be used in the upcoming week. With Polanco already set to be off Sunday, plus an off-day Monday, Leyland said it wasn't an urgent decision.

"I have an idea, sure," Leyland said, "but I'm going to play it by ear. How he feels is going to dictate what I do."

Crazy about Kauffman: Saturday's 15-run outburst and Sunday's 11 runs left the Tigers with 22 home runs and 85 runs scored in nine games at Kauffman Stadium this season entering Sunday. That's the most in both categories for any Major League team at a visiting park this year. Meanwhile, the nine wins at Kansas City are the most by the Tigers at any single road venue in a regular season since they went 10-1 against the Kansas City A's back in 1956.

Coming up: The Tigers will have their final off-day of the regular season Monday before starting a six-game homestand Tuesday night with the Blue Jays. Bonderman (13-8, 4.11 ERA) is scheduled to make the start for Detroit in the opener at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.