Who would have thought that just over a month ago that the savior of the bullpen would have been the disgraced Jose Valverde. His return to the Tigers pen has allowed for guys to return to traditional and more defined roles which has provided stability to the end of close games.
Pitchers are creatures of habit. They do their best when they know when they will be pitching in games and what type of situation the manager will trust them in. When you go into a game not knowing if your going to be pitching the 6th inning or the 9th, you aren’t prepared to be successful. You have seen increases in performance from Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly.
Since Valverde’s Return: 4 IP, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 2.25 ERA
Prior to Valverde’s Return: 10.1 IP, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts, 1.74 ERA
His control has dramatically improved, cutting down his average number of pitches per inning from 17.1 to 14.5, which is a big deal for being able to pitch on back to back days.
Since Valverde’s Return: 5 IP, 1 hit, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 0.00 ERA
Prior to Valverde’s Return: 13 IP, 11 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts, 2.08 ERA
Smyly has been lights out all season, but his role has change since Phil Coke went on the DL. He has thrived as a seventh inning / situational lefty.
The Bullpen as a whole has improved as well. Prior to Valverde’s return to Detroit they had logged 60 1/3 innings in 18 games (Just under 3 1/3 average per game) with a 4.48 ERA.
Since the triumphant return, the bullpen has been almost flawless and the Tigers have been on a role. Minus a major blowup on April 25th (6 earned runs in 3 innings of work) and a minor one on May 1st (3 runs in 3 innings) they have a 0.68 ERA in 26 1/3 innings of work. With the two bad days factored in a 3.06 ERA in 32 1/3 innings.
The bullpen which was a very big question mark at the beginning of the season is now a strong point. It is no longer costing the starting staff games they should have won, but is slamming the door shut on any late rallies.
Keep in mind the Tigers currently have two veteran relievers on the disabled list (Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel) and the bullpen just keeps on chugging along. Subtract two veteran relievers from any other staff in baseball, and there would be a major drop off in performance.
Tigers fans, get ready for an awesome summer of Tiger baseball. If the Tigers keep on rolling at the pace they have been at, get ready for a 100 win season and hopefully another push to the World Series.