Valverde is going to have a pitch count
If there was a lasting image to the Tigers’ second-half fade from contention other than the injuries to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen last year, it might’ve been Jose Valverde’s 60-pitch marathon to finish off a July 30 win at Boston. He needed every one of those pitches to turn what had been a 6-1 lead into a 6-5 loss, and he didn’t seem to be the same after that.
That kind of outing won’t happen again in 2011.
“If his pitch count gets to a certain point, I’m going to take him out,” manager Jim Leyland said Saturday morning.
Doesn’t matter the situation or the state of the bullpen after that. Leyland wouldn’t say that the pitch count would be, but he indicated it would be a firm limit.
Valverde had two 38-pitch outings on top of the infamous 60-pitch affair, though one of them was an extra-inning battle at Minnesota Sept. 2 in which he lasted three innings. Generally speaking, if he entered a game in the eighth inning to close it out, he was open for trouble.
Leyland didn’t want to do it, but Joel Zumaya’s season-ending injury and other problems, including Phil Coke’s workload, left him without many late-inning arms he could count on. With Joaquin Benoit now on board to go with Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya, depth shouldn’t be a problem if everybody’s healthy.
“He’ll be protected,” Leyland said of Valverde. “All our pitchers are.”
Valverde missed his third consecutive day of work Saturday with flu-like symptoms. Leyland said he hopes to have Valverde back Sunday.