Valverde to close for AL All-Stars, Avila bats ninth

When Jose Valverde went to the All-Star Game last year, AL manager Joe Girardi mentioned in a broadcast interview that Jose Valverde would probably be his closer. This year, the question came up in the All-Star press conference, and manager Ron Washington didn’t hesitate to name Valverde his guy in the ninth if the AL takes a lead into that inning.

Washington’s reasoning was simple: His bullpen has a lot of first-time All-Stars, and Valverde is the notable exception.

“For me, if you look at the All Star Game today, especially in the American League, there’s a lot of first time [All-Star pitchers],” Washington said. “There’s quite a few young arms in the American League at the back of the bullpen that saves the ballgames. And without Mariano [Rivera] here, I wanted to make sure that I have a veteran that can handle whatever pressures that the game may offer.  That’s why I chose Valverde.  So I protected myself in that way.

“But all of those arms are great arms, but once again, the youth is taking the American League by storm, and it’s a lot of first timers. I want to win bad, and I just want to make sure, once again, that I had someone that can withstand whatever heat is applied.”

Not only is Valverde the experienced closer on the staff, he has experience here. If he gets in, he’ll be pitching in the ballpark where his Major League career began years ago and where he came to prominence. He racked up 98 saves over five years in Arizona, including a league-best total of 47 in 2007. He also was just as animated as he is now.

Valverde pitched the ninth inning in last year’s game, but the AL was trailing at the time. He retired former teammate Chris Young and celebrated. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets here Tuesday night if he enters with a save opportunity.

The other interesting factor, of course, is the workload he’s racking up. He closed four of the last five days for the Tigers, whose manager was concerned enough about him that he planned to rest him Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, though, Valverde told Leyland he was ready, and Joaquin Benoit’s entry for the last out of the eighth pressed him into action.

Most likely, Alex Avila will not be catching him, since he probably won’t be in the game by then. He’s batting ninth in a stacked AL starting lineup.


Now the clock is ticking on whatever changes may be made in the Tigers’ situations such as another starting pitcher, bullpen help, 2nd base, 3rd base, and the inexplicable lack of clutch hitting again. Based only on the most recent pitching performances by Max, Rick, and Brad, they may might mostly be on the right track. When you consider how many chances Inge, Raburn, Willis, Bonderman, Robertson, and Galarraga were given, isn’t it a little soon to give up on Furbush?

I don’t see it as them giving up on Furbush. I don’t think they want him sitting until his spot comes up in the rotation again (I think July 20th?). Sending him to Toledo allows him to pitch at least once until then and work on a few things. Obviously we don’t know if they’ll call him back up for that next start, but I don’t see this as a permanent move.

Lloyd’s Lollipops:

(The last 7 days before the break)
Peralta .318
Raburn .300
Dirks .294
Magglio .267
Boesch .250
Wells .250
Avila .150
VMart .148
Cabby .120
Jacskon .111
Inge .000(0000000000000)

Wow! The last 4 on your list (not counting Inge) are crucial to any Tigers success. I would call anything below .250 as a definite slump. Inge is just a (s)lump taking up space. How was Kelly during those 7 days?

My miss! Kelly was at .250 and Ramon was at .308

I guess I could add that Inge was unlucky 16 times in that zero average.

I hope Avila comes back after the break with a renewed vigor. He looks tired, lacklustre. Not attacking the bal lat the plate like he was.

I’m to believe that Cabby and VMart can be penciled in as having good 2nd halves. THE QUESTION (offensively) IS whether the too-good-to-be-true performances of players like Avila and Peralta can either a) stay hot, or be replaced by make up performances by players who have thus far disappointed (i.e. Carlos, Maggs, Inge, Raburn)?

I don’t think it is unreasonable to think 1 or 2 of the later will make up for the ‘likely’ cooling down of the former 2. With that said, I hope Jackson can step it up.

Good to say we are in first, and to thank our lucky stars.
Just think how lucky we are not to be in the AL East where we would be 4th, 7 games back or in the West, 3rd and 2 games back.
Lucky we have had no pitcher injured for any length of time.
Lucky we have a league leading starter well on the way to career defining season despite also leading MLB in innings and pitches and no doubt fastball velocity amongst starters.
Lucky we have a closer somehow perfect in saves despite a 1.38 WHIP.
Lucky we are in first with team pitching stats good for only 25th of 30 in MLB.
Lucky the Twins and Chisox have had their own numerous problems resulting in poor first halfs.
Lucky how many guys have stepped up offensively with the team OBP good for 3rd in the AL.
Lucky we are able to see how much depth the farm really has in pitching now rather than next year when contracts have been extended.
With the second half schedule focusing on divisional games, at least one of the four Central teams will get hot. It sure is going to be interesting and a lot of times excruciating thru to the finale.

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