Game 2012.124: Blue Jays at Tigers

66-57, 2nd place, 2 games behind CWS, 1 game behind WC.

Hard to pick up games when the White Sox sweep the Yankees, but the White Sox are off today, and the Tigers go for a sweep of their own.

Don’t look now, but Benoit and Valverde have become quite the 8-9 combo. Valverde has only allowed 2 runs in his last 10 outings (10 innings) and 9 of those outings have been scoreless. Benoit has allowed only 1 hit over his last 5 outings covering 4 1/3 IPs,

Despite Valverde’s recent success, I’m very leery of his continued effectiveness. I believe that Ks are king for closers. Last season was the first in Valverde’s career when his K rate was below 1 per inning. It was still very close – .95 per inning (or 8.58/9), but it has dropped precipitously this year. Through last night, Valverde only has 38 Ks in 51 2/3, for a rate of .74 an inning or 6.62/9. His career rate is 10.1/9. Velocity wise – he’s lost a little over 1 MPH on both his fastball and splitter, anything more and we’re going to see his BAA spike.

Benoit, on the other hand, has kept his velocity constant despite the fact that he’s a year older than Valverde. I think that Al Al or Rondon make more sense as the closer of the future, but Benoit should have the 8th inning spot for a few years. Remember, Valverde’s on a one year deal.

Anyway, Sanchez had his best outing last night, allowing 2 ER over 6 2/3. Even if we just get that kind of a start every other one, for a #5 guy, that’s pretty salty.

JV climbs the hill today. A win would only be his 2nd in the past month, so he’s due. Plus, JV dominates the Blue Jays. There was that no-hitter last May (the last time he faced Tor), and the current Blue Jays batters are a combined 7 for 59 v. Verlander.

A few notes:

– Raburn hit a HR and a double last night in Toledo, which I’m sure has caught Leyland’s attention.

– Fister has been scratched for tomorrow’s start. Smyl Smyly.

Today’s Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Infante, 2B
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Peralta, SS
6. Young, DH
7. Baker, RF
8. Dirks, LF
9. Avila, C