By: Doug Karsch
Wednesday after Jose Valverde gave up a two run bomb, in the 9th, to erase a Justin Verlander backed 2-0 Tiger lead. I had seen enough.
Valverde is getting by (or not getting by) with only one more remaining usable skill: he’s got a closers mentality. But he no longer has the stuff to get the job done. His performance Wednesday followed a very fortunate escape on Tuesday that saw Valverde go to 3-0 on two separate batters. When the command goes, Valverde throws very hittable ‘get-me-over’ strikes that get gobbled up by major league hitters. But even worse, Valverde gave up the game tying home run on a 0-2 pitch — a pitchers pitch that shouldn’t be anywhere near a gopher ball.
Here are some facts to mull-over. The Tigers now lead the Majors with six walk-off losses. Valverde’s last 6 appearances have resulted in the following: 5 1/3 IP, 7 ER, 5 HR, 10 H.
One sign that Valverde no longer has the stuff, according to ESPN Stats and Information, Valverde has given up four homers in his last twenty splitters thrown.
I often say, it’s not about what you did, but about what you are going to do next. I would not predict success, next for Valverde.
But, the Tigers have a problem — they appear to be World Series caliber everywhere else but closer. How do you address this problem?
The answer: by exhausting every possible resource before dealing a valuable commodity and going outside the organization. In trade discussions every GM around the league will sense Dave Dombrowski’s desperation and try and take one of his prized minor league prospects. Given the future financial constraints this team will have, hanging on to young/talented/cheap options like Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia is critical. If the likes of those two can man positions, it frees up money to re-sign guys like Max Scherzer and Doug Fister.
It’s time to try Rick Porcello as a closer. Porcello has bounced back this year and has been effective. The Closers role in a one inning job — and Porcello’s first inning #’s are terrible. But that’s due to one horrific start against Anaheim in which he allowed 9 Earned Runs. Take that outing away and Porcello has a very respectable 2.70 ERA, with a 1.00 WHIP, .237 BA Against.
How much more effective can he be if he knows he only has to get through one inning?
I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I do know that last year the San Francisco Giants tried eight different guys in the closers role and won the World Series.
The Tigers need to take on an approach of continuing to search for an answer from within before dealing away a young player that may also cost them a starting pitcher long term.