Game 2013.20: Royals at Tigers

The Tigers have a new closer (same as the old one).

And they are lucky to get him:  “A lot of teams wanted to sign me,” Valverde said. “Like the Yankees and Mets. A lot of teams.” Count on the Yankees to spoil the fun: Yankees GM Brian Cashman told WFAN radio: “False, false, false.” Then Buster Olney piled on and said the Mets didn’t make an offer either.

At any rate, an optimist (or something) can say that Valverde is the missing piece that completes the bullpen. “Valverde could be the answer. Truly, the answer…Leyland will be able to use his bullpen cast in the slots to which they’re best-suited.” As Vince said, the greatest gain from signing Valverde may be that Leyland can manage more comfortably now, and doesn’t have to think about who pitches when.

Not that there are not opposing views. Setting aside the whole debate about how important having a designated closer even is, some are calling the signing of Valverde in particular a panic move.

For what it is worth, he did look like a different pitcher last night. He still came in with a spit and a hop (although without the trademark glasses), but has a different delivery now, and a quicker one by the way. His fastball seems to have picked up a couple mph from the end of last season.  But where was that supposed improved slider? (All 18 pitches were fastballs. It may have been just too cold for anything else). Does he have a strikeout pitch? The three outs were hit rather hard. And how will he pitch with men on base? Valverde’s celebration dance was subtle and subdued, as should be ours until those questions are answered.


This afternoon is the marquee pitching matchup game, James Shields vs. Justin Verlander. Look out for Billy Butler, who has tormented Verlander at a .396 pace over his career.


Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Victor Martinez. V-Mart finally became unstymied with some “in play, no out” balls. Let’s stay on a roll here.

Today’s Kelly-Time Lineup:

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

33 thoughts on “Game 2013.20: Royals at Tigers”

  1. Throwing all fastballs is a Valverde trade mark. I went to the Cleveland game late in the year and Papa Grande blew the save and the game in about 10 pitches. He will need to find the off speed pitch or his heroics will be short lived.

  2. ValVerde is not going to suddenly discover an off speed pitch. He is 35 and has never thrown one. That being said he will I am pretty sure will continue to work on his splitter which he throws pretty hard and add that to his fastball if he is going to make it..thats what he does!

  3. Shields throws 5 straight balls to Victor but somehow the count is 3-2 and the umpire gets in Martinez face…hey buddy how about working on you ball /strike skills instead

  4. You know the worst part of watching Avila bat…..its watching him bat!…..

    He is on pace to get 10 rbi though this year!

  5. So much for the Setup Guy followed by the Closer strategy. I guess the “getting their feet wet” (Rondon) and the “getting them going” (Kelly) plans take precedence over winning. Well at least it is still tied.

  6. Leyland made a real mistake lifting JV at 96 pitches. This is just JL wanting to get his guys in. Hopefully it won’t cost us a W. It may have cost JV one.

        1. Completely agree. AN awful, awful decision by Leyland to have Rondon make his ML debut in the 8th inning of a one run game. I thought they were going to ease the kid in?? We just had two days off in a row before Wednesday night’s game so please don’t tell me that Benoit was unavailable to pitch the 8th today. Leyland continues to be one of the most overrated managers in all of baseball. Put this loss on him today.

    1. When Leyland is confronted with a critical strategic situation, 75% of the time he is going to do the wrong thing, sometimes several wrong things. He just doesn’t know any better. In this case, you are absolutely right, Kevin – go with JV for one more inning and then Valverde. Not that I am convinced of the correctness of that strategy, but if that is the proclaimed program, then stick do it. Sometimes baseball isn’t that difficult. But when Leyland starts fiddling around, watch out.

      1. Yeah that sounds good to me. What the heck did we give Verlander all that money for? So he could only do 90% of the job? That doesn’t make much sense.

    1. To me baseball is a relaxing game because I think you need to approach it as not going out of your way to make voluntary mistakes, and then let fate and probability take over and in your favor if you make less voluntary mistakes than the other team. It’s like golf, if you make the technical and statistically smart shots then you are going to be alright, but if you defy golfing logic and try to drive a ball 350 yards over a pond and do things the hard way, then you are bound to get snake bit from time to time and then have to bail yourself out of a deep hole.

        1. Well it depends on the situation. I’m not really an avid golfer so I’m careful about talking about blanket golf strategy, but the stereotype you see in the movies is the expert golfer telling the rookie that you don’t just go for the most difficult shot every time. You play the odds and lay it up and play the game the technically correct way. And if you don’t go out of your way to make trouble for yourself, then it’s supposed to be a peaceful and pleasant walk through the park en route to victory.

  7. i hate leyland for moves like that. lets put in mlb debut kid to protect justins lead. genius. nothing like throwing people into the fire.

    1. Yeah and going by Leyland’s own analogy, he put Rondon in for his debut in the middle of the deep Pacific. It was Verlander’s sacred game against our most important division opponent with a small lead. He defied his own prophecy and baseball logic.

      1. Plus it wasn’t even the 6th inning!! There’s just always something to add to Leyland’s Laundry List.

  8. Calm down, y’all. Verlander came out because of a blister. Rondon went in because they didn’t bring him up to watch from stands.

    It sucks that we lost the game, but I don’t see how it’s Leyland’s fault that our bullpen’s ERA is 4.50. For those that are bad at math, that means our bullpen gives up a run every other inning, which means there was a pretty good chance that the 3-2 wasn’t going to hold no matter who Leyland brought in for the 8th.

    There are two morals to this story: it’s hard to win with only 3 runs of offense and our bullpen needs to get better.

      1. No problem with bringing Rondon in at all. My problem at that point in the game is how the PR Dyson’s steal of 2B was essentially conceded. It’s a 3-2 game. How do you not hold that runner close? I rarely have strategy beefs, but I’ve got a big one this time. That runner scored to tie the game. Rondon is not even close to unhittable at this point. You can’t let him ignore men on base as though he was likely to strike out the side, making runners irrelevant. He’s going to get scratched and nicked for hits until he can PITCH well enough to make 100 MPH relevant.

    1. Sorry Jeff, but that was a poor decision by Leyland. Putting a guy in who struggled all spring training for his ML debut in a one run game in the 8th inning versus the team that we are currently chasing in he AL Central was not smart. The kid completely ignored Dyson after he entered as a pinch runner and basically put the team in tough spot (man on 2nd with no outs). It is decisions like this that get people upset with Leyland. He flouts conventional thinking on a regular basis and usually pays for it in terms of losing games that should have been won. Conventional thinking would say give the kid a few non-pressure situations (up or down by three or more in the 6th inning or beyond) before throwing him into the fire.

      By your logic (and apparently Lynn Henning’s and Jim Leyland’s) we should have Castellanos make his major league debut as a big league hitter by having him pitch hit in the ninth inning of a game where the bases are loaded with two outs, as we trail by a run. Maybe we top it all off by having him face Mariano Rivera in that scenario just to “see if the kid has what it takes”. I mean, hey, that is what the kid was called up for, right?

      1. As I see it, the poor decision by Leyland (or at least one I can’t fathom as yet), Jerry, was not MAKING SURE Dyson was held in check to the extent possible by Rondon. This was not Rondon’s call to make in this situation, or shouldn’t have been.

        Rondon didn’t struggle all that much in spring training. I saw him. The Toledo decision was based on him not being ready for what they wanted him for, not on him not being ready for the bigs. He was, and is.

        Pressure situations are exactly what the major leagues are about. For a rookie, for a veteran, for Castellanos, Rondon, or anyone. It’s not going to make a bit of difference how many “non-pressure” opportunities you give someone. When the game is on the line, there’s no easing into it retrospectively. Also, I’m not sure if there IS such a thing as a non-pressure situation for a rookie. All eyes are upon them no matter what.

        Isn’t a chance to make a difference in a game what any competitor strives for, lives for? Do you suppose Rondon or Castellanos would be thinking to themselves, “Oh God, don’t bring me in NOW!”?

        Rondon and Castellanos (as examples) also have certain talents and capabilities that would make them good choices vs. certain hitters/pitchers, irrespective of the whole rookie and pressure things. Don’t overlook that.

  9. By your logic (and apparently Lynn Henning’s and Jim Leyland’s) we should have Castellanos make his major league debut as a big league hitter by having him pitch hit in the ninth inning of a game where the bases are loaded with two outs, as we trail by a run.

    If he represents a better matchup than the guy scheduled to bat, of course.

    It’s April; if he can’t handle April pressure, he’s not going to be here long enough to unpack anyways. Besides, by the time a guy makes it to the majors, he’s already received a handful of big promotions over the years, so you just have to trust your scouts when they say he’s ready for this next one. Give him some mop-up work if you want, but it’s not going to make a lick of difference in the long run. Even the worst AAA player has had an incredible amount of success in his career and you simply do not get to that point by being fragile.

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