I’ve tried to stay away from this topic for as long as I could, but I couldn’t do it any longer. Jose Valverde has been turning some heads down in Lakeland, Florida in limited Single-A action. As you all know, the Detroit Tigers signed Valverde to a minor league contract just days into the season.
Since the first blown save of the year, people have been looking at the Flying Tigers carefully, seeing if “Papa Grande” will be back in Major League Baseball.
In just two games for the Single-A affiliate of Detroit, Valverde has pitching two innings of shutout ball. He’s walked two batters and struck out one, giving him a WHIP of 1.00. It’s important to understand these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt since he’s only pitched two innings but at the same time, he hasn’t screwed anything up yet.
If any of you have read my articles about the Tigers closer position, you know that I don’t think too highly of Valverde. I wasn’t in favor of signing him, and still don’t think it was a great idea. That being said, it can’t really hurt either.
Do I think he can be productive at the big league level? No, I think that he’s too inconsistent, and will ultimately be the same pitcher he was at the end of the 2012 season. I have been in favor of signing a free agent or just using the players they have to fill the spot. Although it’s looking more and more like Valverde will at least get a shot with the Tigers.
At least at the moment, it looks as if he will be moving up the ranks soon — most likely to Triple-A Toledo with the Mud Hens when the weather gets a little bit better in the north. There, he will be pitching with young prodigy Bruce Rondon, who at the beginning of the year was thought to be the replacement for Valverde.
This will no doubt bring some interesting storylines, but in the end I believe that Valverde will get the call to Detroit and not Rondon.
I hope that it doesn’t come down to him closing games for Detroit, but I fear it will. Fans might want to start taking their heart medication now because they could be suffering through rough ninth innings here pretty soon.