Jose Valverde inked a one-year deal with the Tigers and will immediately assume the closer role, according to Manager Jim Leyland. His signing comes hours after the club recalled phenom Bruce Rondon to replace Octavio Dotel, who was placed on the disabled list. The moves should solidify one of the most fluid bullpens of the young 2013 season.
The 35-year-old Valverde saved 35 games for the Tigers in 2012 with a 3.78 ERA, but struggled mightily down the stretch and lost the job for the post-season. The club parted ways with him in the winter and vowed not to bring him back, until Rondon struggled and nobody emerged as a clear closing candidate.
Joaquin Benoit should be dropped for Valverde, if he is available. Benoit will fade to a middle relief role and does not strike out enough batters for Fantasy consideration.
Rondon was given a shot at securing the closer’s job in spring training, but a series of sub-par outings, marred by wildness, earned him a trip to Triple-A Toledo. He fared well there, finishing six games, earning three saves, while walking only two batters in 7.2 IP. He fanned nine hitters.
The Tigers are 9-9 with three saves. Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit have finished half the team’s games.
Rondon will likely set up for Valverde.
Benoit has a 2.00 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and six walks in nine innings this year. He has notched one of the club’s three saves. Coke is 0-2 with a save while carrying a 4.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and he has nine strikeouts and a walk in seven innings.
We continue to believe Al Albuquerque is best suited for ninth inning duties. The 27-year-old right handed Albuquerque has 16 strikeouts in nine innings this season with a 2.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Lefty Darin Downs, with 13 strikeouts in eight innings, a 2.16 ERA and 0.72 WHIP, has impressed Leyland, but with Rondon on the big league roster and Valverde inching closer to the majors, both relievers should return to obscure bullpen roles.