One thing that a manager looks for in bullpen arms is consistency and the ability to bring their “A” game to the mound whenever called upon. He doesn’t want to worry about them being able to find the strike zone or tossing leadoff walks.
That said, Al Alburquerque is simply too erratic to hold his spot in the Detroit Tigers‘ bullpen. Alburquerque has been anything but consistent this season for the Tigers. He was spectacular in April, allowing just two runs over the entire month, which came in one game.
After a couple of rough outings, Alburquerque was sent down to iron out mechanical issues. He came back in late June with a vengeance, allowing just one hit in his first seven appearances after rejoining the team, but hasn’t been the same since.
Alburquerque has a 5.51/1.87 ERA/WHIP and has allowed 27 walks in 32.2 IP this season for the Tigers. The reason the Tigers continue to give him a chance is because they’ve seen what the best of Alburquerque can be. His slider is unreal when it’s on. “Late break” doesn’t really do it justice. The problem is, the pitch isn’t always consistent and his other stuff isn’t good enough to carry him when it’s not.
Alburquerque hasn’t been very good last week either. He allowed five hits and two earned runs in one inning of work against the Chicago White Sox on Monday. In the three outings prior to that, he allowed four hits, two earned runs and two walks in two innings of work.
The Tigers’ can’t afford to use Alburquerque with all his inconsistencies. It’s getting down to crunch time, and they shouldn’t have to send someone to the mound who they can’t be sure of on any given day.