Tigers option Alburquerque to Toledo

Al Alburquerque’s struggles commanding the strike zone not only cost him his manager’s trust on Wednesday, it also cost him his spot in the Tigers bullpen. The Tigers optioned Alburquerque to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday and called up Evan Reed, who will join the team in Texas.

It’s a stunning move considering the way Alburquerque looked a few weeks ago and the role he was carving in the bullpen with Octavio Dotel on the disabled list. It was less stunning considering Leyland’s remarks after Wednesday’s loss to the Astros.

Alburquerque was enjoying maybe the best stretch of his career three weeks ago, delivering five scoreless innings on one hit with 10 strikeouts over three appearances on the Tigers’ West Coast trip last month. Half of those strikeouts came in two innings against the Angels, throwing 17 of his 20 pitches for strikes, which Alburquerque called the best outing of his career.

A mechanical tweak Alburquerque made with help from pitching coach Jeff Jones had him throwing not only with more consistency, but more deception. Sometime after that, though, Alburquerque’s command went haywire.

The strikeouts are still there, 10 of them over 5 1/3 innings in six outings since then. However, Alburquerque has allowed three runs on seven hits with nine walks. He threw just 56 percent of his pitches for strikes in that stretch, compared to 65 percent in his first nine games.

The last straw for Leyland came Wednesday, when he turned to Alburquerque with two runners on and two out in the eighth to strike out Chris Carter. Alburquerque ran the count full before striking out Carter chasing a slider in the dirt, but but then walked J.D. Martinez on five pitches to lead off the ninth.

With back-to-back switch-hitters due up, the kind of situation that normally favors Alburquerque, Leyland pulled him in favor of Phil Coke, knowing Coke’s struggles against right-handed hitters.

“You can’t let [Alburquerque] walk them,” Leyland said. “I mean, that’s depressing. If I had felt like he was going to throw the ball over the plate, or had shown any signs that he was going to throw it over the plate, I would’ve obviously left him in. But when you’re having trouble and you’re bouncing the ball, that’s not real comfortable.”

The forthcoming seventh-inning situations might not be easy on him, either. Dotel is nowhere close to a return, by Leyland’s admission, and Leyland doesn’t want to wear down Joaquin Benoit early, which was why Alburquerque was pitching in the ninth inning in the first place.

This might be the chance for Jose Ortega to claim a valuable role in the bullpen. He has thrown 6 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits with six strikeouts since coming up from Triple-A Toledo a few weeks ago. The Tigers had been stretching out Ortega to be a multi-inning reliever.

They’ll also see what they have in Reed, a waiver claim from the Miami Marlins last month who has racked up 28 strikeouts over 21 innings at Triple-A Toledo. The 27-year-old will get his first Major League work in his seventh pro season.

44 Comments

heck skip i wanted him sent down instead of putkonen. But now that you done sent him down – the more Evan’s the merrier I always say.

Dotel is nowhere near to a rehab start? Whhhaaaaaaaa?

Players have to spend at least 10 days in the minors after being optioned, so they can’t recall Putkonen until next week.

More telling is that Rondon is not back.

yea exactly

Dotel didn’t look good at all, he might take a while to come back in my humble opinion. Ortega throws strikes for sure. I know very little of Evan Reed.
A bigger issue is Coke and his struggles. Much like Al ABQ he can look great but then…. blah. Almost would like to see Coke and Smyly switch roles, although that pretty much takes Smyly away from spot starts.

I would like to see Coke restricted to LHBs. He throws BP to RHBs. If JL needs more than a LOOGY performance out of Coke’s spot in the pen, then he should be optioned out and replaced with someone who can at least give the Tigers a chance at success.

The un-asked question from yesterday’s game is why Smyly was pulled after 11 pitches? Why not have him finish the game? I thought there was some overmanaging going on. Did I miss something?

Not sure. Hope it was not because of a lack of velocity on the fastball.

Beck answering that at twitter:” If anyone was going to chase a good pitch outside the strike zone, it’s Carter. Actually fit Alburquerque quite well.”

yea my comments are on record that i felt he could go 40 pitches or so. To be fair, they were kinda “high pressure” pitches. With that said, I still would have left him in there.

I won’t hang my neck out too long (for fear of being chopped), so I won’t go as far as to use the word “hypocritical”, but I will say that as far as guys giving up leadoff walks, JL certainly has a “double standard”. It has been suggested that JL may not like A2. It was quickly discounted by others on the board. I actually agree with whomever said that. I too, feel that JL is not a big fan of Al, so to speak. JL does have his favourites, no question about that.
I missed the Putkonen demotion. What was behind that? I thought the guy had done really well. I did not see the games on the weekend.

someone had to go when coke came back. ALQ was struggling with command – Putkonen had a bad outting a few days prior – so Luke went down instead of ALQ.

On 5/2 Cool Hand Luke won an extra inning game for us and threw 35 pitches over 2 1/3 innings. On 5/9 in the second game against Washington, he threw six pitches getting one out and walking one batter. He was replaced by Drew so I will say that the Nats must have had a lefty coming to the plate. Definitely a short outing but not a bad outing. No runs scored. Just our manager’s decision.

if i remember right it was a fielders choice and a walk ….. i remember not being impressed but whatever.

Leyland is a good manager but he does not know how to manage a bullpen. Kathy, I agree with you on the fun that Magglio and Carlos had playing the game. Why not use your closer in a tie game at home and tell the boys to win in walk off fashion?

That team had personality!! Right up until Mr. “gimmmee the ball” Kenny Rogers wasn’t given the ball.

As to Rondon. He has to put the fastball in his back pocket. So does Dombrowski. 100 MPH hurlers are a little more more expesnsive than a “dime a dozen” but he also does not throw 100 all the time. He sits around 97 or so and MLB players see that all the time. He has to perfect an off-speed and then scare the bejesus out of hitters by whipping out the fastball in a non-fastball count.

Unless there’s a good reason for it, lifting Smyly may have cost us the game. It did lead to Alburquerque’s demotion and Coke’s head on a spit. It’s the lynchpin of this entire business. As I see it, it’s THE question. Tell me it wasn’t about L-R matchups, please.

The Skipper has Valverde set to go three out of four if necessary against Texas. Absolutely, I do NOT agree with this plan but that is how he thinks.

Why does J L think Coke is so good ….The first pitch that he threw was right down broadway and was hit to the gap. Jim…. Phil is not the pitcher to put in against a right hand batter .

Hard to believe that AlAl can be so good then struggle so much, he can be such a tremendous pitcher but then loses it – too bad

Why does everyone think JL is so good!

huh? HOF manager – turned this organization around – took us to two world series – super cares about the city and fans – etc etc

Sorry Evan Idiots was a wrong choice of words. I should have said blinded by the teams success despite JL. I agree Evan he’s a terrible bullpen manager. You’re right he doesn’t like people getting walked. Personally I’d take a high walk pitcher with very low OAV than a guy like Coke. I’ve said it a million times Coke is nothing more than an inning eater mop up.
I think there’s 4 key areas of coaching. Here’s how I’d grade JL.
1. Having the respect of your players. I give him an A.
2. Planning management. IE rotations, skipping starts, lineups, resting players, callups/sending down players I give him a C. (Although this year I like most lineups minus Kelly’s starts, I can’t stand his decisions to call up Rondon, Valverde.)
3. Bullpen management I give him a F-
4. In game management I give him a F, when to pinch hit, hit and run, play the infield in, etc. (Don Kelly should never ph for anyone. I love DK but he’s not a major leaguer)
If we were the Astros those marks may be acceptable but we’re the Tigers. A team that should win it all. I believe we win despite Leyland not with or because of him.

interesting thoughts Vinny – I think if two fans were to sit down and watch/listen/experience a season together (I have my wife + 1 or 2 others) as it plays out — you’d find differing of opinions, preferences, philosophies are at the root of something like: the differences between two knowledgeable fans ratings of the managers job.
.
In those three categories I give JL:
1. A
2. A
3. C
4. B
.
And for reference I gave Trammel:
1. B+
2. F
3. C-
4. D

Because they are idiots. JL is a great players manager and a horrific in game manager. Everything thing he says contradicts what he said the day or week before. JL hates AlAl and is in love with Coke. JL always has played favourites ie. Coke, Raburn, Inge, Kelly, Valverde.

well that’s your opinion and mine is that he is only a terrible bullpen manager. And to say he doesn’t like ALBQ is misguided: he doesn’t like relievers who walk people – ALBQ is walking guys like hot cakes right now.

We commenters probably constitute little more than noise to most pros. JL likely cares about what his peers and his players think about him. That being the case, I would say JL has the respect of those who matter most to him. As far as opinions by commenters as to the kind of job he has done, I would say the results are split.

yea i agree on that!

Jim has areas where he excels and areas where he’s lacking. Just like every single person on this planet.

Odd the Al Al’s replacement, Reed, is known for HIS wildness (not so much at Toledo this year, but…).

I just hope everybody (including Leyland) remembers this wildness/walk philosophy when Valverde does the same.

I saved his word to post them when Valverde walk the lead off, even if a I dont see that as a prediction of doom . Bill James has the numbers to prove that

lord knows that’ll happen – his FIRST hit he gave up nearly threw the whole fanbase into a fit

Since the subject has come up, Jim seems to pay a lot of attention to talk radio and internet stuff. If I was in his shoes, I’d steer completely clear of that. Can’t win in those arenas.

Someone asked Beck what you want to know about Smyly at twitter. Above I pasted the answer

Yeah. I read the comics and get a chuckle from them. I imagine that is about how much weight JL gives to radio and internet stuff.

Okay. Just going by what Jim said last year.

good move sending Al Al down. walking 6 batters to open up innings is just a sign that he has no mental game. comes out there not mentally prepared, all show, no dough. worried more about his strut around the mound after striking one out. i love the other day he was so self involved in his strike out, he walked off the mound after only 2 outs. i find it exactly what he needs right now. knock him down a few notches, and while he’s sitting in a crappy toledo hotel maybe the light bulb will go off.

HAH that is true and funny – and honestly, until you said that I didn’t realize it. wow.

thanks Evan. glad one of the regulars here agrees with me. ugh, horrible game last night. the kind you just close the book on and forget, hopefully.

Knobler. Tigers looking more relief help

Thanks El Tigre for that answer. I must have missed it yesterday since I read all those tweets. The answer itself is not a good one. He brings in Alburquerque to face a guy who swings at bad pitches. That’s one hitter and Jim has a short bullpen. We see how that worked out. I guess Smyly is incapapable of throwing one in the dirt to Carter?
Jim’s mistake yesterday was overmanaging against a very poor team. Just let your horses run against a team like that and stay out of it.
Which would bring us to Kelly PHing for Tuiasosopo who can hit RHers and was already having a big day. Overmanaging.

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