Well, it's official. Tiger manager Jim Leyland's solution to the Tigers' closer dilemma is to stick with the status quo.
MLive's Chris Iott tweeted these comments from Leyland's pregame media session:
Leyland: "We're going to use Jose Valverde until we decide Jose Valverde can or can't do it or we've got somebody else better."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) June 14, 2013
Jim Leyland: "This basically boils down to everybody can tell me I'm bald but nobody can tell me how to grow hair. That's how I see it. …— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) June 14, 2013
Jim Leyland: "'Hey, Jim, you're bald.' 'No (expletive). How do I grow hair?' 'Well, I have no idea.'"— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) June 14, 2013
After Leyland's rant at the mere suggestion that he changed closers simply because Valverde has been abysmally ineffective recently, we should not be surprised.
Valverde has saved nine of twelve opportunities this year, for a 75% save rate. He features just two pitches, a four seam fastball and a split finger fastball. Opponents have a slugging percentage of .944 and an OPS of 1.260 against his splitter, which is his "strikeout" pitch. Against Valverde's fastball, opponents have slugged just .229 with an OPS of only .464.
Whether Valverde will continue to throw the splitter, or whether he'll just become a one pitch closer is something we'll have to wait to find out.
We have nine blown saves, and Valverde has three of them.
Of course, a "save" can be blown any time in the seventh inning or later. Joaquin Benoit has not blown a save, and several others have not had a save opportunity yet this season.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.