Leyland juggling relievers to keep arms fresh

Leyland juggling relievers to keep arms fresh

CHICAGO -- Manager Jim Leyland certainly isn't complaining about his team rattling off its longest winning streak since the 1968 season.

After all, the Tigers have taken command of the American League Central, building their largest division lead since holding a 15-game edge in the AL East at the end of the 1984 season. But the Tigers' recent dominance -- outscoring opponents 89-31 in their 11-game winning streak -- has provided Leyland with some difficult decisions regarding the bullpen.

The Tigers' series-opening victory against the White Sox was a perfect example, with the Tigers holding a commanding 14-3 lead by the time Leyland needed to turn to his relievers. Leyland said he could have easily gone with seldom-used Luis Marte to try to finish out the game, but instead decided to go with Daniel Schlereth, Ryan Perry and finally David Pauley.

"The easiest thing to do would have been to put Marte in that game, but I don't think that would have been the smartest thing to do," Leyland said. "Marte probably won't be in big situations these next few days. You want to keep the guys that you think are going to be out there -- and who haven't been out there -- fresh."

That's not to say that Leyland will handle similar situations the same way down the stretch, but for now it's just a matter of striking a balance between getting his relievers some rest while also keeping them ready to face clutch situations.

"You can look at it a lot of ways," he said. "Sometimes you try to get somebody work, but sometimes you just think it's more important to try to keep one guy sharp over another."