"He's pitching Game 5," Leyland said prior to a 7-3 loss on Monday in Game 2. "That's a slam dunk. That is the end of the conversation."
Rick Porcello, who pitched two perfect innings in relief of Verlander in Game 1 on Saturday night, will start Game 4 on Wednesday as previously planned. Verlander, who threw 84 pitches in the series opener, will get his regular four days' rest before starting Thursday.
Not even a must-win scenario in Game 4 will change that.
"What people don't realize is, you've got to win four games," Leyland said. "Nobody might believe this -- the public, the TV people might not want to and everybody else -- but let me tell you something: At this point, from what I've seen, pitching Justin Verlander on the fifth day is two-fold. It's the best thing for Justin Verlander, and it's the best thing for the team. Trust me when I tell you that.
"In my heart, it is a no-brainer. It might read better if I said I changed my mind. Everybody would love it. But it's not the best thing for him, and it's not the best thing for this team. He needs the day. That is a no-brainer."