For a contending team, the Detroit Tigers have a major issue in their bullpen. Who is the closer, and which of their RPs do you want to have on your fantasy baseball team?
The closer role has not been filled with certainty after the melt down of Jose Valverde in the playoffs last year. In theory, closer-by-committee would seem to be a plausible strategy. But in reality, it rarely seems to work out well.
Bruce Rondon was targeted to be the team’s closer, but he did not make the opening day roster. The decision was made that he is not quite yet ready for prime time action. Maybe if he dominates in the minors he could be called up later in the season.
So Jim Leyland’s current plan is to use the trio of Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel and Al Alburquerque as the closing committee. Maybe leftie Phil Coke could fill the role when the matchups are right, as well.
Dotel, who will turn 40 this year, has bounced around a lot, with stops at 13 different major league teams. He does have 109 career saves, but his last role as a closer was back in 2010. Throughout his career he has pretty consistently had a K/9 a little over 1.0. It’s hard for me to see Dotel accumulating very many saves this year.
Benoit has been a consistent set-up man for the Tigers the last two seasons with 59 holds. I can’t see Leyland messing around with Benoit’s role in the bullpen, so I don’t see him getting a lot of saves either.
Alburquerque seems to me to be the most likely pitcher to collect saves for the Tigers. When he has pitched for the Tigers over the past two years, he has done well. The problem is his durability. He has pitched only 62 innings, including the postseason. His slider is his out pitch and when he has it working it is quite effective. I did draft him in one of my leagues this year, but once I saw that Rondon was doing well, I dropped Alburquerque and picked up Yasiel Puig. In the long term, I think I made the best choice, but I might be a little short on saves this year.
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