What to make of Tigers bullpen after Game 1

If there was any bright side for the Tigers to take out of their 8-3 loss in Game 1 of the World Series, it’s that they have a much better idea who they can use in late-inning situations in their bullpen. That’s the bright side. The flip side is that it’s far tougher to see Jose Valverde being one of them.

Valverde, who never lacks for confidence, told reporters after the game that the adjustments he made last week worked, and that he threw better pitches against the Giants than he did in his blown save against the A’s and blown lead against the Yankees. The results, he had to admit, were terrible, with a double and three straight singles after he struck out Tim Lincecum.

“Everything’s working good for me,” Valverde said. “I have my sinker, my split, my cutter, everything good so far. You have to give credit to the hitters: Sandoval, Pagan, Scutaro, Posey. They hit my best pitches.”

Or as he said later, “My mechanics are good, and all my pitches are working. That’s what I want.”

Jim Leyland, who has stood by Valverde through his struggles and reminded people what Valverde has done for them over the last few years, didn’t see it that way.

“You know, he wasn’t terrible. He just wasn’t good,” Leyland said. “For whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to be coming out quite right, although he did have a few 93s, a couple 93s, 92, 93.

“You know, it’s a little bit puzzling, to be honest with you. It looks like it’s just not quite exploding. But that’s pretty much all I can say about that.”

That soon after the game, there was no question asked about how Leyland would handle a save situation going forward. But it might have been fitting that as Valverde left the mound, Joaquin Benoit was coming in.

Benoit struck out Hunter Pence on a slider, then hit 97 mph — a rare range for him — on a fastball to strike out Brandon Belt. Benoit said after the game he wasn’t working on anything in particular in his first outing since Game 1 of the ALCS. He was just getting the rust off. He wasn’t seen throwing a lot of side sessions with pitching coach Jeff Jones watching. He hasn’t been giving up a ton of hits so much as the hits he has given up lately — all year, actually, if you look at the stats — have been huge.

If there’s a save situation with right-handed hitters coming up, it’s a lot easier to envision Benoit coming up than Valverde. Valverde thrived for the better part of two years on missing the middle of the plate more than any particular out pitch, and he wasn’t missing with nearly as much success Wednesday night. You wonder if Valverde might get another shot to show something in a game that’s out of reach, but there’s a real question how Leyland could use him otherwise.

This is the scenario Leyland was afraid of, have a short bullpen with somebody you can’t use. He can get through it if his starters go deep into games like they did in the ALCS, but if the Giants are fouling off pitches and working counts this series like they did against Verlander — no one- or two-pitch at-bats at all — the bullpen is going to have to cover some serious ground. Having a six-man bullpen instead of seven, and not having a set closer, puts more stress on a lot of guys. Leyland might still take another chance to try to make Valverde useful, even if it’s just earlier situations. But if the game gets out of hand again where Leyland can do that, the Tigers have a lot more trouble than their bullpen.

21 Comments

JL made his bed and we all will have to sleep in it. So glad we have Ramon Santiago on the Roster instead of Downs or Villareal. [sarcastic]

Jim and Dave always have reasons for their decisions, but I can’t quite figure what made them decide to go with an 11-man pen. From the comments by and regarding Valverde, some of us here on this site questioned whether he was really “fixed.” We shouldn’t be seeing things that management doesn’t. We could have used Downs in an attempt to neutralize one of Sandoval’s ABs. ‘Tis a puzzlement.

This is our manager’s seventh year in the playoffs and he has consistently had 10 or 11 man pitching staffs.

Valverde: “They hit my best pitches.” That says it all!

It sure does.say it all.
We need Prince Fielder to resemble Pablo Sandoval or at least about a 33% resemblance tonight.
Young’s quote? Ridiculous one. The offense that showed up last night was the same one we saw time and time again during the regular season. 1st pitch swinging, poor at bats, disconnected with each other in terms of forming an attack.
If we want to get back in this we need to hit and we need to hit hard and often. Perhaps the over emphasis (in the media) on the rotation to be dominant leaked back into the clubhouse and affected our hitters. They can’t coast. They have to have a plan.

I just started following this blog as the Tigers won the ALCS. Your comments are the most intelligent and well thought out of the bunch. I am learning about the Tigers strengths and weaknesses from your comments and suggestions. You have a fair and balanced approach and I very much appreciate it.

If his velocity is down, which it is, couldn’t you get away with removing him from the roster with some sort of “general arm soreness” or something, in favor of someone like Bryan Villarreal or Scott Downs?

I wanted to do that 12 days ago in New York.

Delmon Young must have been out of his mind or that quote out of context. When starting pitching falls the positional players DIG THEIR TEAMMATES OUT. And I blame the big boys – they didn’t bring home the bacon last night!!

1) In the first PF and DY both let us down.
2) Again in the 3rd Miggy lines out with AJ on base.
3) In the top of the 4th (after the 2nd HR by Pablo) DY GIDP with PF on 1st.
4) By this point the game has an different mentality but we could have started to get back into it. If PF had gotten MC from 1st to 2nd (or 3rd) instead of his lineout then DY could have gotten him home (DY did get a single to centerfield).

Our top 5 hitters in the order HAVE TO be generally productive. And the bottom can chip in now and then when they can. If that happens this team will win.

Having a hard time getting over this one…….still! I just can’t help but thinkng if you don’t win Cy Verlanders starts, what are you going to win? And after seeing Illitch at the alcs celebration this might be his last chance to see a world series and to see the effort put forth last night really makes me mad and sad for him.

Gotta remember ’68 when McLain laid an egg in his 1st 2 starts and Lolich came up big. Need some unsung hero to step up.

I wasn’t alive……but thanks.

Bullpen for Game 2 of the World Series. We really need to have Doug Fister face Hunter Pence three times. We have three relievers who did not pitch last night. They are eager to join the battle. Benoit looked sharp last night and would like to lock down the eighth inning for us tonight. If we play extra innings, Porcello or Smyly
better still be available.

Okay, regarding tonight’s game then, the Tigers have an ability to put things behind them and it may be their biggest strength. I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again. One game does not a series make. However, that bet on the Tigers winning in five doesn’t look too good now, does it? That was crazy talk, but this series has a long way to go.

I figured Tigers in 6.That may be a best case scenario now.
I just don’t want to hear the garbage spew from our manager and players after another loss. These guys sound downright dense when they confronted by media after a loss. Leyland, Young Valverde and, to a lesser extent, Verlander???

“After another loss” – considering the Tigers haven’t lost in two weeks….. let’s all relax and just win game 2

This bullpen is better now. Everyone (penultimate guy being Leyland) now knows without a glimmer of a doubt, that Valverde cannot cut the mustard. Unfortunate that this wasn’t dealt with (and I admit that would have been very difficult to do) prior to the post season and most certainly before the Series.
Many of us here have seen this coming for awhile now. Quite awhile.
We are extremely fortunate that the team compensated for Jose in both the Divisional and the Championship series. It could have had much worse results.
Now emotion and loyalty no longer come into play.

I agree on all points

If Delmon Young thinks it’s so tough to hit lefties and assumes a 4-0 third inning deficit is insurmountable, I suggest he not start tonight. Either that or limit his postgame comments to no comments at all.
So now the same media who chose the Tigers in five are dogging them. It’s funny because it’s all so damn predictable.

There was also an undertone of blame from what I heard and read into it. As to lefties being “unique” well I will say they are not unique to only Detroit Tiger hitters.
“No comment” from Delmon, “Next Question” from JL and “I stink” from Valverde should be all we hear from these guys.

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