After blowing a four run lead in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers have announced that should a save situation arise Sunday afternoon, Jose Valverde will not be on the mound. Manager Jim Leyland said that he sat down with the Tigers pitching staff and after viewing game film, decided that Valverde needs some time to straighten out his mechanics before he’s put in a save situation again.
“His delivery is way too slow. … I’ve had a conversation with him today.” Leyland said before Game 2. “I still consider him a closer but he will not close the game today.”
Valverde entered Game 1 with a 4-0 lead and ended his night with a two run, game tying home run by Raul Ibanez. The Tigers evetually won the game 6-4 in 12 innings, but the game should have ended in the 9th inning with Valverde on the mound. It didn’t and now the TIgers embattled closer is feeling the consequences.
Although Valverde may be benched for Game 2, Leyland did indicate that he hasn’t totally lost the role of closer, rather this move is a temporary punishment. But the massive implosion by Valverde won’t soon be forgotten by Leyland, as he said faith must be restored before Valverde takes the mound in a critical situation again.
“I understand the magnitude of it in the postseason,” Leyland said. “However, don’t forget those last three outs are very tough to get and it takes a special cat in a lot of cases to do that.”
As for who will close should that situation present itself in Game 2, Leyland was mum. He did, however, mention that Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit were all available in the bullpen to possibly take on the role.
The Yankees and Tigers play Game 2 on Sunday afternoon in New York before sending the series back to Detroit.