A's-Tigers notebook: Leyland's best rotation yet?

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland thinks his starting rotation may be one of, if not the best in his 22 seasons as a major league manager, and he gave general manager David Dombrowski huge credit Saturday.

Three of the Tigers top four starters -- right-handers Max Scherzer, Anabal Sanchez and Doug Fister -- came to Detroit via trades.

Scherzer, who beat the A's in Game 1 of their American League Division Series on Friday, came to the Tigers from Arizona, along with Daniel Schlereth, in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy on Dec. 9, 2009. Dombrowski acquired Fister from Seattle in a six-player deal July 30, 2011. The Tigers acquired Sanchez from Miami on July 23, 2012, in another multi-player deal.

"Sixty percent of our staff is from trades," Leyland said Saturday before Game 2. "That's pretty good. Pretty good GM."

Dombrowski has been the Tigers' GM since April 8, 2002. He was in charge when Detroit drafted right-hander Justin Verlander in the first round in 2004 and right-hander Rick Porcello in the first round in 2007.

"I would have to say this is the best I've had," Leyland said of his rotation. "I had maybe a better bullpen a couple places, but starting rotation, this is probably the best."

Sanchez is scheduled to start Game 3 on Monday, with Fister starting Game 4 on Tuesday.

Parker winless against Tigers

A's right-hander Jarrod Parker will be looking for his first career win against Detroit -- regular season or postseason -- when he starts Game 3 at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon.

Parker is 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA in four career starts against Detroit, counting the playoffs.

He went 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts against the Tigers last season in the ALDS, including one in Detroit. In the regular season, he's 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA against Detroit. In his only start against the Tigers this year, he allowed a career-high eight runs on a career-high tying nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings in a 10-1 A's loss April 14 at Oakland.

Parker had a career-high nine-game winning streak earlier this season and a 19-start unbeaten streak, but he struggled in his final three starts, going 1-2 with a 9.20 ERA.

Even so, A's manager Bob Melvin said he isn't concerned.

"We always feel good when he takes the mound," Melvin said. "He had a stretch second to none there for a while. Then he had a couple of off-starts for him, two of the last three, but not really a drop-off in what he does, so we always feel good when he takes the mound. That's why we targeted him for that first game in Detroit due to his experience as well as pitching there last year."

Melvin, Leyland shuffle lineups for Game 2

After going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Game 1, A's first baseman Daric Barton was out of the lineup Saturday. Brandon Moss, who started at designated hitter Friday, moved to first base, and Seth Smith started at designated hitter.

Entering Game 2, Barton had a .143 career batting average against Verlander, going 2-for-14 with five strikeouts and no extra-base hits. Smith was 2-for-15 (.133) with one home run and four strikeouts.

Barton, regarded as the A's best defensive first baseman, didn't help his cause in Game 1 in the first inning when he let Alex Avila's hard ground ball go under his glove, for an RBI single.

Smith had only 32 plate appearances in September, making just seven starts. But Melvin said his experience pinch hitting at Colorado helps him excel in spot duty.

"He has the most experience of getting at-bats and sitting for a while and still keeping himself ready to get an at-bat, whether it's once every three or four days or once a week," Melvin said.

The Tigers made one change, replacing struggling left fielder Andy Dirks, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Game 1, with Don Kelly. Another option was to use Jhonny Peralta in left, but Leyland said he went with the better defender to play behind Verlander.

"I don't know how this is going to play out," Leyland said. "At some point you could see Peralta there. We've got to score some runs. ... I thought it would be important to have a pretty good defender out there, so that's why I went that way as opposed to playing Peralta tonight. I chose Kelly for the defense, really."
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