Brayan Villarreal suffering from elbow weakness, will be examined Monday

Aug 12, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Brayan Villarreal (60) throws a pitch during the seventh inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. The Rangers beat the Tigers 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

There may be a simple explanation for the sudden ineffectiveness of Tigers' relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal. He's having arm issues.

After today's loss to the Rangers, Villarreal revealed to Jim Leyland his elbow was feeling weak, and had been feeling weak, but Leyland pointedly added:

"Of course, he hadn't told anyone."

If there is a positive to the situation, it's Villarreal saying he's not in pain.

"I felt like it was inflammation," Villarreal said. "It was weak, but I'm not sure what I've got. will be examined in Minneapolis on Monday.

Something was definitely up with the young right-hander. Villarreal's overall numbers remain solid, as a 2.45 ERA attests. But he was lights out in the first half, posting a 1.55 ERA and 1.034 WHIP in 29 innings. Since the break, his ERA has been a still respectable 3.38, along with a less than impressive WHIP of 1.625, due to a rotten August.

After posting a sterling 1.13 ERA for the month of July, Villarreal's season skidded off the rails this month with a 6.75 ERA. It's done nothing but gone up after today. It's a small sample size, but it could also explain how long the elbow has been bothering him.

With a struggling Joaquin Benoit and scuffling Phil Coke, and now Villarreal sporting a weak elbow, I wonder if we'll be seeing Bruce Rondon in the Tigers' bullpen sooner than originally expected.

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