ALCS 2012: Jose Valverde Should Only Pitch to A-Rod
Don't let the win fool you, the Tigers' and Jim Leyland were definitely taking long strolls through Central Park this morning, pondering their closing situation, perhaps even looking for a shirtless A-Rod sunning himself on a rock, again. Regardless, the Tigers' know they are in trouble, realizing that great starting pitching means nothing if the bullpen can not complete games.
The MLB a trendy league, most of the time, and the case with Valverde is no different. After blowing two saves this post season, nearly costing the Tigers an ALDS Series win and Game 1 in the ALCS, the reasons to skip the 34-year-old in later innings makes perfect sense—two games is evidence enough to show a trend.
It's not as though Valverde has been a shutdown-pitcher in his playoff appearances, previously. He has played in six series over three years, earning a disastrous 8.79 ERA in that time—the 54.00 he has in this ALCS doesn't help—and allowing 16 hits in 14.1 innings pitched.
In the short summation: He is awful.
Valverde did an excellent job as closer during the regular season, only blowing five saves, completing the job he was asked to do—and get paid to do—88 percent of the time. However, again and again, this is not the regular season; sometimes pitchers don't have the stuff, from the release point or in the head, to be a solid postseason pitcher—and Valverde is just that, for the time being.
Whether he is tipping his pitches or his interesting delivery is causing the ball to flatten out, something is not working, clearly, and the Tigers need to realize it. Yes, they won the game, taking one from a difficult team and environment, but that's not a trend Leyland wants to follow.
The Yankees still have not found their collective swing, except for Ibanez, and it's Detroit's time to strike and finish—as I have said, the Yankees can not rely on Ibanez, solely.
Now, it's at the Tigers discretion not to rely on Valverde, unless they just want to pitch him against Rodriguez—assuming Alex ever pays, again.