ST. LOUIS - Kenny Rogers is the best pitcher remaining with a team still playing who might not get to pitch again. Because the Tigers continue to start him only in home games.
Thing is, the Tigers, down 3-1 in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, may not get to the home game Rogers is scheduled to start. Because Game 5 of the Series is here, in St. Louis, and a Cards win ends the Series.
Still, when asked if there was any chance he might juggle his rotation and skip rookie Justin Verlander in favor of Rogers - 3-0 and unscored upon in 23 innings this post-season - Tigers manager Jim Leyland said: "Absolutely none. I'm not going to pitch him in this atmosphere."
Leyland went on to add: "We have to win three ballgames. ... If we had to win one game, if it was a seventh game, I'd pitch him. We have to win three games."
Still, by evoking the idea of a hostile atmosphere, Leyland makes necessary the question: Would Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Christy Mathewson or any of the true greats, have accepted being shielded, or would they have demanded the ball in a game that absolutely must be won for there to even be a tomorrow to think about?