LOS ANGELES -- Justin Verlander's case for his fourth All-Star selection is looking like his strongest case ever. His case for actually pitching in the Midsummer Classic is now looking highly unlikely, the way the Tigers' rotation shakes out.
Thursday is the Tigers' last scheduled off-day before the All-Star break, and there had been legitimate question whether manager Jim Leyland would keep his starting pitchers in their current order and give Verlander an extra day of rest, or move Verlander up a spot to have him start on his regular four days' rest.
After Verlander's two complete-game victories this past week, however, Leyland is giving his ace a break.
"Our rotation will fall in line the rest of the way," Leyland said.
Thus, Verlander's next start will be Saturday against Arizona, rather than Friday. Project his starts out every five days from Saturday, then, and he's on track to pitch on the Sunday before the All-Star break. By rule, pitchers who start on that Sunday are ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game two days later. They can still be selected, but they're replaced on the roster by someone who can pitch that day.
Leyland did not talk about any All-Star consideration. Verlander, when asked later, downplayed the importance of it. His 9-3 record and 2.54 ERA seemingly put him in strong consideration for the starting nod, but he indicated his prior experience pitching in the game is the same.
"I'm not sure I'm going anyway," Verlander said. "If I were to be selected and I pitch the last game [beforehand], I've had the opportunity. I've pitched in a couple. That's personal, and that's not what this game is about. It's about winning baseball games for this team. My job is helping this team win games. Give some other guys a chance."