First exiled, then re-signed, relief pitcher Jose Valverde was recalled by the Detroit Tigers Tuesday evening, agreeing to a one-year contract.
Jim Leyland also announced Valverde would not only be re-joining the bullpen, but Papa Grande would return to his former role as closer.
A manager who loves having a set bullpen roles, Leyland's reaction to the return of the Big Potato was expected.
With the bullpen by committee experiment having come to an end, Leyland is one happy man tonight. But I'll guarantee you the Tigers' fan base isn't happy. They will react to the return of Valverde by with a complete and utter overreaction.
Think of the Tigers as the voice of reason, reminding everyone to, "REMAIN CALM, ALL IS WELL. WE HAVE A CLOSER." The fan base will not listen and react by steamrolling Kevin Bacon and riot during the homecoming parade.
We aren't that far removed from what we thought was Valverde's last save as a Tiger. No, it wasn't in the regular season. Everyone forgets it was in game one of the ALDS. The Big Potato easily handled the 9th inning of a 3-1 victory, setting down the A's in order.
Unfortunately, the last memory we have of Valverde is his downfall, hitting rock bottom by getting battered around like a punching bag in game one of the World Series. Yes, it was ugly. But it shouldn't define him, or his career.
Factoring in what happened last fall, it's not as if Valverde going to get much, if any, of the benefit of the doubt. The leash will be short. Even if this isn't a time of extreme emergency (regardless what the fan base believes), the Tigers will preserve bullpen order.
Think of it as Valverde being placed on double secret probation. One slip up, charter revoked!
The Valverde experiment will end in one of two ways. With a whimper...
...or a party!
It's entirely possible the signing of Valverde, in addition to the promotion of Bruce Rondon, could lead to a reinvigorated bullpen. It became obvious Octavio Dotel was unable to pitch through elbow inflammation and Brayan Villarreal just wasn't cutting it. Something needed to be done.
The time spent in Florida has apparently convinced the Tigers Valverde's career, well, it ain't over now. He wouldn't have been called up otherwise (and there is a backup plan already in place, Rondon). If Valverde can recapture what he had for much of 2012, the Tigers will have solved a nagging problem for very little investment.
If so, the Germans, and the rest of the AL Central, don't stand a chance.
Everything I just described in regard to Valverde rediscovering how to get hitters out could happen. I'm not saying it will, as no one can say at this point if Papa Grande's fastball is either fast or has movement. Even if the Big Potato gets mashed, this is an experiment worth trying.
Let me introduce to you closer Jose Valverde. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.