The Jose Valverde experiment appears to be officially over for the Detroit Tigers after a tumultuous past few weeks. Jim Leyland said yesterday that Joaquin Benoit would take over the closing duties when he was healthy and available, so the writing was on the wall:
#Tigers designate Jose Valverde for assignment.
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) June 21, 2013
Valverde started off well, but seemed to fall back into old habits. His fastball velocity was dipping with regularity and he clearly wasn’t going to be a part of the team’s long-term plans after a few rough outings. He may have been able to get the job done from time to time, but he completely lacked consistency and didn’t appear to iron out the issues that caused him to grow out of favor with the Tigers faithful.
Al Alburquerque was called up in his place. He was sent to the Toledo Mud Hens on May 16 after he struggled with his control. Some might question why the Tigers didn’t bring Bruce Rondon up instead, but with Benoit doing the closing, the Tigers need to get someone to fill his spot in the bullpen as a setup man.
The Tigers are almost guaranteed to go out and get relief help before the trade deadline now. Alburquerque has shown flashes of brilliance, but his lack of control is certainly a cause of concern. His slider is exceptional which gives him a solid one-two punch, but he’s more of a right-handed specialist than a closer.