Joaquin Benoit returned to his setup role when Valverde was brought up April 24 and has allowed just one run in 10 appearances (10 innings).
Octavio Dotel, ideally the seventh-inning pitcher under Jim Leyland's preference, has been out of action since April 20 so Detroit has had to go a variety of ways leading up to Benoit.
Phil Coke spent time on the disabled list with a left groin strain and has been his usual up-and-down self since returning -- three runs in four appearances covering 4 2/3 innings. Leyland likes to use him in a variety of roles anyway, ranging from one batter to multiple innings.
Drew Smyly has filled in for Dotel as a seventh-inning pitcher, but Leyland is trying to walk a fine line with the southpaw, trying to keep his innings total up by using him in long relief but also pitching him in late and extra innings. Smyly has been scored upon just four times in 15 games (28 innings) this season.
Darin Downs also has seen some late-inning work in Dotel's absence. He has allowed four runs in 12 1/3 innings covering nine games since Valverde was elevated from the minors.
There has been some turnover, with Jose Ortega and Luke Putkonen added while Al Alburquerque and Evan Reed were deleted. Brayan Villarreal was also deleted early in the season.
But the point is having stability at the back end has allowed Leyland to tinker with his other relievers to get matchups he likes. The relievers know what's expected instead of coming to the park with an upset stomach because they didn't know whether they would be asked to set up or finish a game or not.
Meanwhile, questions remain about Valverde.
Leyland has used him in back-to-back games just once this season and has been both sparing and judicious in his use of a closer who was 49-for-49 in saves for the Tigers just two seasons ago.
His presence, though, has helped those around him. There's no question about that.
NEXT: Twins (Scott Diamond, 3-4, 4.99) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 2-2, 5.92)
1B Prince Fielder played in his 387th consecutive game Tuesday night. That streak dates to Sept. 14, 2010, and is the longest active streak in the major leagues.
RHP Justin Verlander gave up five runs and 10 hits while throwing 110 pitches in five innings to get the win Wednesday, an 11-7 victory over Cleveland. Verlander had to wait over an hour to get the last two outs of the fifth inning in order to qualify for the win. There was a 62-minute rain delay after Verlander got the first out of the fifth inning, but manager Jim Leyland allowed Verlander to return to the mound after the delay to get the last two outs. "He's our horse. He's earned that," Leyland said.
3B Miguel Cabrera couldn't believe his eyes when his long fly ball to center field in the eighth inning Wednesday bounced off center fielder Michael Bourn's glove and over the wall. "A lucky home run, but I'll take it," Cabrera said.
RHP Rick Porcello will start Thursday night in Detroit against Minnesota. In 16 career starts vs. the Twins, Porcello is 6-5 with a 3.35 ERA.
RHP Luke Putkonen made his first appearance Wednesday night after being recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday. Putkonen pitched one scoreless inning Wednesday, with two strikeouts vs. Cleveland.
"A lucky home run, but I'll take it. I thought it was an out, then I looked again and it was over the wall. I was surprised. Wow. That's the first time that's happened to me."—3B Miguel Cabrera, who homered when the ball caromed off the glove of CF Michael Bourn.
RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 20. He had yet to resume throwing as of May 21.
CF Austin Jackson (right hamstring pull) was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 12. He is eligible and on track to come off the disabled list on May 27.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Doug Fister
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Joaquin Benoit
LHP Drew Smyly
LHP Darin Downs
RHP Jose Ortega
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Luke Putkonen
1B Prince Fielder
2B Omar Infante
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
INF Ramon Santiago
LF Andy Dirks
CF Don Kelly
RF Torii Hunter
OF Matt Tuiasosopo
OF Avisail Garcia