If you think of a team’s bullpen as a giant monster that comes in to kill the other team’s offense, a picture of the pieces needed to complete the ‘pen gets clearer.
The closer would certainly be the head of the beast. That is the guy that makes all other positions possible, and without him, the rest of them just fall apart.
The head can’t do much without his supporting members, however.
The setup guys are like the neck and shoulders that hold the closer up into his spot. One of the most overlooked roles is that of the middle relief man that can do a great many things well. For the Detroit Tigers, that man can easily be Al Alburquerque in 2013. He is the heart of the the bullpen that isn’t always getting the attention, but make no mistake – without him, the rest wouldn’t perform nearly as well.
His stuff is great, and he has an ERA in the majors well under 2.00. He averages over a strikeout per inning, but also was once a starter in the minor leagues. That means he can stretch himself out if he needs to.
With Rondon probably getting the closer role, I think Alburquerque would really work best as the man at the heart of the pen. Obviously, Jim Leyland knows what kind of moves to make to create and lead a winning team. If I were him, I would make this man a priority spot in my pen.