That didn't change in the final weekend of the regular season, in part because Leyland is looking beyond this year for Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
Hours before rookie Alfredo Figaro took the mound Saturday night for his first start in three months in a game the Tigers needed in their hopes of clinching a division title, Leyland said he did not give serious consideration to starting Verlander or Porcello on short rest.
Both pitched in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Twins because Porcello's originally-scheduled start Monday was rained out. Otherwise, Porcello would've started Saturday. Verlander remains on schedule to start Sunday.
"I'm not going to pitch Verlander on three days' rest and I'm not going to pitch that kid [Porcello]," Leyland said.
That would be the same decision, Leyland said, even if Detroit was a game back in the race -- wouldn't happen.
"Not with those two kids," Leyland said. "I wouldn't do it. We've got our opportunity. We've got enough guys. It's not the ideal situation having to pitch a rookie like this, but we've won two or three big games like this with [Eddie] Bonine pitching."
That isn't a surprise with Porcello, the 20-year-old rookie who made the Tigers' rotation out of Spring Training with the understanding that Leyland and Detroit's coaching staff would try to limit his innings over the course of the season. They didn't let him top 100 pitches in an outing until the end of August, and he threw a season-high 111 pitches Tuesday.
Verlander has more experience and is used to a high workload. However, he has never started on three days' rest in his career.
Porcello might not be done for the regular season. If the Tigers end up with a one-game playoff against the Twins, it would be Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET at the Metrodome. While Verlander and Edwin Jackson wouldn't be able to pitch, Porcello would have had six days' rest.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.