-A lackluster start to the season by Detroit’s closer-by-committee situation lead the Tigers down a familiar path on Thursday. The American League Central favorites re-signed their former closer, Jose Valverde, to a minor league contract with the option to opt out by May 5th if he’s not called up to the Majors. The 35 year-old veteran is clearly not the long-term solution in Motown, but could serve as a band-aid until Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque or Joaquin Benoit decide to grab ahold of the ninth inning — or until Bruce Rondon is deemed ready for the role.
With the signing — and if he gets the call — Valverde would have the third most career saves among active, non-injured relievers. Entering today, Valverde’s 277 saves would place him behind only future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera (608) and Joe Nathan (298) among those expected to pitch in ‘13.
And now back to reality. Papa Grande’s skills — specifically his velocity, SwStr% and K% — have deteriorated over the years. But hey, “they” say he’s lost some weight, he’s throwing his splitter more often with confidence and the velo is up a tick. In an act of desperation I would throw a buck of FAAB at him, but keep your expectations lower than low, he hasn’t even made the team yet.
-Cubs’ skipper Dale Sveum stuck to his guns today and called upon his erratic reliever, Carlos Marmol, to close out the Pirates with a 3-0 lead. Marmol walked the highwire again, giving up two earned runs on three hits and a walk while striking out just one, but got himself out of a few jams to earn his first save of the year. Heart Attack City, I tell you. It’s worth noting that Kyuji Fujikawa came on in the eighth and dished a clean inning on just nine pitches. He induced two quick groundouts and finished off the Pirates’ half with a strikeout of pinch hitter Garrett Jones. Sveum indicates that Marmol is his closer, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on Fujikawa leading the Cubs in saves by the end of the season. Make the add where possible.
-The Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, in his new-old role, notched his first save of the 2013 campaign. Chapman surrendered a leadoff single to Mike Trout (obviously), but sat down Erick Aybar, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in consecutive fashion to seal the deal on just nine pitches. According to BrooksBaseball, Chapman’s four-seamer touched 99 mph, his changeup hit 92 mph and the lone breaking pitch he threw — a slider — came in at 81 mph. Just like riding a bike.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]