It was one of the most exciting games witnessed during the 2012 Major League Baseball season. In just under five hours, the Detroit Tigers managed to take an early lead on the New York Yankees, give it right back in the ninth inning and recapture it in the top of inning number 12. Despite the injury to Yankees' captain Derek Jeter and the lingering, sub-par play of Alex Rodriguez, the drama that unfolded was something that, though completely unnecessary, wasn't completely unbelievable. And it wasn't necessarily anything to do with New York's performance during the October 13 American League Championship Series debut.
After a seriously-streaky regular season, Tigers' closer, Jose Valverde, repeated the feat he had accomplished in Game 4 of the American league Division Series against Oakland - a horribly-performed blown save. Giving up a pair of two-run homeruns in the ninth inning, Valverde was pulled in favor of Octavio Dotel and Drew Smyly, before the Detroit offense took over to regain the lead and seal the victory.
Now, the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland have a problem. With Valverde giving up seven runs on seven hits, in his last two appearances, he has shown that he cannot be counted on to close out the big games, contradictory to his performance last season. As such, Detroit has few options to choose from in the game of "musical closers." Of the remaining arms, the most plausible solution, at least in this fan's eyes, would be Al Albuquerque.
"Double A" has been lights-out during this postseason. Despite the now-infamous "kiss" heard 'round the baseball world," Al-Al has performed well enough throughout the season, and during this postseason, to warrant his insertion into the role. Against Oakland, he totaled an ERA of zero. He has given up zero hits, and zero walks, in 1.1 innings of work, spaced over two games. Coupled with his .68 ERA during the regular season, and the lack of performance from the Tigers' bullpen, there seems to be no doubt who the closer in waiting should be.
It would be a difficult decision for any manager. For jim Leyland, it holds greater precedence, as it could mean the difference in whether or not Detroit makes it to, and potentially wins, the World Series.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Valverde