How Jose Veras addition impacts Tigers bullpen

Jason Miller

The acquisition of Jose Veras means the other relievers slide down a chair.

The acquisition of Jose Veras, without giving up a major league player, means a number of players could be affected.

First, he must be placed on the 40-man roster. He is already showing up on this roster at MLB.com. I count 41 names, but Octavio Dotel is on the 60-day disabled list and therefore can be excluded. Dotel was rumored to be making a little progress in rehab at last, but I suspect this means we will not see him in Detroit again.

Next, he must be added to the 25-man roster. That means one of the relievers currently in Detroit is hopping on I-75 for the trip back to Toledo. The candidates are Al Alburquerque, Luke Putkonen, Evan Reed, and Bruce Rondon. Coke is left-handed and therefore safe for the moment. Al Al has continued to struggle with walks in July, allowing 11 runs in 9 1/3 innings. Putkonen seems like a long reliever, but has been used for no more than two outs in his last five appearances. He has little potential role in the postseason, whereas Al Al could be brought in for a key strikeout. Evan Reed is strictly a mop-up reliever. His eleven appearances include ten in losses, and finishing the 10 to 0 blowout on Saturday. Bruce Rondon has allowed a run in all three of his last appearances and while showing potential, continues to look like he needs more work in Triple-A.

But where will Jim Leyland use Veras? Jose has pitched as a right-handed reliever for eight seasons, though Detroit is his seventh team. He looks most like a replacement for Octavio Dotel. He was not a closer until this year, when Houston wisely tried him in that role. When it worked for four months, they flipped him for prospects. This is how a team can create value when they are not competing. So if Leyland sees "Proven Closer" tattooed on Veras based on 19 saves in 22 chances this year, Benoit will slide back to the setup role. Whether Veras closes or is the right-handed setup man, his presence should take the remaining right-handed relievers out of almost any pressure situations.

The relievers in Toledo must be a bit disappointed, though they have done little to warrant a return. Jose Ortega is racking up strikeouts but with too many walks. The same holds true for Bryan Villarreal, but he is also allowing a lot of hits. Jose Valverde is one more step removed from Detroit, which may be the most rewarding aspect of this trade.

Darin Downs is on rehab assignment and could be returning soon, forcing another move. It may seem strange to suddenly have an abundance of options in the bullpen.

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