DETROIT -- Jim Leyland watched the Cy Young Award announcement on MLB Network from his home in Pittsburgh. Justin Verlander checked into the show from his vacation in Italy. Max Scherzer was on video from a boat off the Virgin Islands, where he was on a scuba diving trip. Rick Porcello was at home with family.
For one night, the current and former Tigers were all linked again. It wasn't a happy reunion for all, given the voting results of Porcello's win over Verlander, but with two Cy Young Awards and a runner-up finish, Wednesday was another reminder of the gifted rotation Detroit had for five years.
"I was fortunate enough to see it live for many years," Leyland said. "What a pleasure it has been. It's still been obviously a big pleasure since I've been gone, but I was fortunate to see it firsthand. It's great. It's absolutely great. Scherzer, Verlander, Porcello ... it's pretty impressive.
"It was an honor to be their manager, I can tell you that. And I had a lot of fun."
Verlander and Porcello started their careers pitching for Leyland three years apart. Scherzer joined them in 2010 after a season and a half in Arizona. They grew up as pitchers under the watch of Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones, especially Porcello, who was slotted into the Tigers' rotation as a 20-year-old in '09 after only one season at Class A Advanced Lakeland.
"Jonesy was extremely influential to me for the first six years of my career," Porcello said. "The biggest thing that he was able to teach me, and I was kind of able to maintain, was the mental stability and thought process going from start to start. That was something I had to deal with coming over to Boston, maybe one of the tougher struggles I handled over my first year.
"Obviously I hope [the award] is a proud moment for him, because he had so much to do with it. He was such a huge factor in this. He's been a big part of my development. I hope he's proud of it, because I couldn't have done it without him."
At the same time, the pitchers learned from each other.
"Honestly, I think all three of us being in the [Cy Young] race shows what we had there for those five years, at least the time I was there," Scherzer said. "... We all looked out for each other and found a way to make each other better. I know for a fact that the conversations I had with Ricky -- talking pitching, talking about each other's outings and critiquing each other, finding ways to make sure that everybody was on the same page -- that I was invested in his start that he was invested in my start to be able to go out there and understand what we needed to do."
They competed against opponents, but also against each other. They pushed each other to improve, especially Scherzer and Verlander. That arguably factored into how they've done since that vaunted rotation broke up.
"I think in their own way, those guys all pushed each other in a good, fun way," Leyland said. "But in a very intelligent way, because I think it all made them better pitchers."
All three landed lucrative long-term contracts. All three topped their respective pitching staffs this season. All three now have Cy Young Awards. On Thursday, they combined to garner 47 out of 60 first-place votes. And though the finish between Verlander and Porcello was close, Leyland said it was a no-lose situation, unless Indians righty Corey Kluber beat them out.
"I'm just thrilled," said Leyland, who texted congratulations to Porcello and planned to do the same to Scherzer. "I couldn't be happier for all of them. Justin's got one, plus [a Most Valuable Player Award]. Max has got two. Ricky's got one now. You couldn't be happier for all of them."
The MLB Awards -- following league-specific recognition by BBWAA voters, whose ballots are based on regular-season play -- include candidates from both leagues (with postseason performance taken into consideration). MLB Awards are based on votes by retired players, broadcasters/reporters, team executives, Society of American Baseball Research members and fans, with each group accounting for 20 percent of the process. Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET. MLB Awards categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.