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.

8 Comments

Hope the Big Fella starts feeling better. Been down for 3 days now.
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Regarding the Skipper’s comments about pitch count:
It’s about d*** time.

Hmm……..should I comment on this…….or should I be nice to Jim?
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It must be strange to have the Big Potato out there today not being his usual boisterous self.
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That weather down there looks as if it’s been great. Save some for me, Jason.
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–Rich

Be nice Rich!!.
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Gotta weaigh in on a couple of things. One, this team needs to have more to offer than Brad Thomas as a token southpaw or “long man” in the bullpen. Brad is a fringe player and a 25 man roster can’t afford too many of those types.
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Ramon Santiago gets little attention every year then he goes out and performs well offensively and defensively time and time again. If there was one guy that could have a career breakout year I would be pulling for him.
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Have 4 Venezueleans ever hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back to-back dingers?
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I am hoping against hope that Brandon Inge will be able to hit above .260 this year and contribute 75+ RBIs. If he AND Jonnhy Peralta can do that this team has a shot.
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This will be one critical year for a good DP tandem out there.
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Can’t leave without some comment about the franchise:
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Yes MCab can miss Spring Training and come into the season still ready to hit the snot out of the ball. But what about learning how to play with his new 2nd baseman? What about digging those balls out of the dirt from Inge and Sizemore? Getting into the groove in the field is one of the most critical parts of winning ball games when it counts.
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Give full marks to JL for trying to keep a straight face when he says that the Cab incident down’t distract his team one bit.
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How can anyone explain how a player can hit with so much confidence and success and then have a complete one-eighty like BB did last year?
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Will the Tigrs have one or more 20 game winners this year?
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How about some ST reports media? We’ve got a few dozen guys that are trying to make this team.

If a reliever needed 60 pitches to record three outs, I would state his problems started after that. Valverde’s problems started with the Boston game, not after. Which begs the question, did the pitch count in that game have any bearing on his season, or exacerbate an already existing issue?

Jim Leyland wants to hit Guillen sixth which I’m okay with, but it begs the question who will hit second. Seems as if it would fall to Raburn on those days when the projected starting eight take the field. I’m not sure I’d want to “take the bat out of Raburn’s hands” if Jackson is on firstbase and trying to steal. Guillen, by nature, looks at more pitches. Any thoughts on that?
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–Rich

Clarification, Jason, the Tigers won that game 6-5. It reads in your post as if they lost it. Also, litt, Valverde pitched an inning and a third, so it wasn’t 60 pitches in a single inning.
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Rich, if Raburn bats second, I hope they try some hit and runs, as it would keep Ryan aggressive and also out of some double plays he might otherwise hit into. His speed is better than Guillen’s at this point, I would imagine, meaning the big boys would be more likely to score him on a double or move him along on a flyout than Guillen. Maybe this is what Jim means when he says there will be more of an emphasis on baserunning this year but not necessarily on stolen bases…

Well, being nice to the SOC is that he does not know how to handle pitchers. Hmmmm…..World Series, last series of the year are a few that come to mind. I think he is a good manager, just not a great one, which we need for the next 10 years and beyond. If Carlos was (is) healthy I would bat him second. Ryan would need more bat control. But, hey, the batting order will probably change every other day :) Is it Spring yet? 10 inches of snow yesterday in GR. Go Tigers 2011. –Dave

I don’t think being aggressive is a problem for Raburn when he’s going good. There will be very little bunting, that’s for sure. One of our bunters (Laird) is gone, then you get to Santiago and Rhymes. Other than that, you can’t put on the bunt sign when the guy at the plate can’t bunt.
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It’s Jim Leyland’s kind of offense, sit back and wait for the hitters to bunch some hits. We’ll see if it works.
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–Rich

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