Any success the Detroit Tigers enjoy in the postseason will rest on the right arm of one person: Joaquin Benoit.
If the Tigers are to win all the way through to the World Series, Benoit is going to have to have the pitching performance of his life. He’s the Tigers’ closer and it’s easily apparent how critical that position is. Any team without a hot closer during the playoffs usually can’t be expected to go too far. A year ago, the Tigers were banking on Jose Valverde, who started falling apart at that time as their closer.
This season, Valverde tried a comeback with the Tigers and it didn’t work. Benoit came in, took over and did an admirable job.
But lately, he’s shown some signs of inconsistency. He’s now getting ready to be the closer in the playoffs, and there’s no room for blowing saves any longer. Benoit has to become tougher on every pitch and be ready to pitch out of some of the most high-leverage situations in his life. Blowing leads late in a playoff game can be devastating to any team. That’s why Benoit has to be as close to perfection in the playoffs as possible.
That’s the way it is. It’s the playoffs. For the past two years, the Tigers have been picking up some impressive talent to try getting that World Series ring their owners covet so much. Benoit isn’t the highest-profiled player or the highest-paid performer on the team; but in his position, the fate of the Tigers is clearly on his shoulders.
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