Found September 24, 2012 on Tigers Weblog:
PLAYERS: Jose Valverde
TEAMS: Detroit Tigers
Mlb-tigers-mariners-apr

Post image for Game 2012.153: Tigers at Royals

80-72, 2nd place, 1 game behind CWS, E# 10.

I haven’t yet figured out how to insert fancy charts into the Word Press editor yet, but imagine there’s a graph below entitled “Jose Valverde’s Career.” The Y axis (vertical) would go from “Bad” at the bottom to “Good” at the top. The X axis (horizontal) would say “Back Then” on the left and go to “Now” on the right. And then there would be an arrow diving from the top left of the chart towards the bottom right. With gusto.

It’s pretty easy to look at Valverde’s recent performance and note that he’s posting a 7.71 ERA over his last 10 outings, having allowed at least 1 ER in 6 of those 10 appearances. He’s been drilled for 5 ER in his last 2 1/3, and mercifully, in one of those, the game ended before he could invite anyone else onto the base paths. So what’s the reason?

As I mentioned last night and a few weeks ago, I think the culprit is his velocity, or lack thereof. According to FanGraphs, his fastball now sits at 93-94, instead of 94-96, and batters are jumping on it. As a result, the swings and misses are down (contact on 83.3% of swings, up from 76.9% last year) which means more balls in play and translates into hits at an alarming rate with our defense. The reduced velocity has also manifested itself in a woeful 6.47 K/9, which is over 3.5 off of his career average.

Moreover, he’s lost a good amount of movement on his fastball, which supports the increased contact. Unless he can develop another pitch, these are the sort of problems that can derail a closer’s career (or a borderline team’s playoff hopes).

Now, the counter to this argument is that is June, July and August were phenomenal. But note that his K rate for those three months was only around 6, and he walked as many in June as he struck out (4). I think that was just a little bit of randomness working itself out over the long season.

Valverde is not as bad as he’s been over the past few outings, but he’s no longer the same guy who K’d ARod to close out the ALDS last year.

(Note – not trying to ignore the team’s defensive woes or inability to make seemingly routine baseball plays. These are all factors. Just wanted to share a few thoughts on Big Potato.)

*******************

The Tigers start an extended series with the Royals tonight which includes a makeup from an April 30th rainout. These will be the last 4 regular season games at Comerica this season. Then it’s off to Minnesota and KC to wrap things up.

It’s hard to get excited about a 4 game set with KC when on the heels of yesterday’s Twins sweep, but this division is wide open. And while the eventual WS Champion Cardinals sat 2.5 games out at this point in time last year, there are questions as to whether the Tigers have the right fire in the locker room.

So I’m going to pull the Spring Training line – had we known in March that the Tigers would be 1 game out, with 10 games remaining against teams that were a combined 37 games under .500, I think we’d all be okay with it, and pretty damn excited about these last 10 games. Let’s Go Tigers!

Tigers are 7-4 against the Royals this year, 4-1 at Comerica. I feel a sweep.

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

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
STICKY FINGERS?

Jose Valverde holds on to ball during pitch

Jose Valverde has always been known for his antics. Whether it’s the way he enters the field of play, the amount of times he touches his hat before each pitch (seven but who’s really counting?), or the dances he does following his saves, he is always doing something for attention. That being said, Valverde outdid himself in Detroit’s game against Minnesota when he attempted...

Detroit Tigers Jose Valverde holds onto ball during pitch

Back on Sunday night, Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde forgot one of the cardinal rules of pitching against the Minnesota Twins.In the tenth inning with two outs, Valverde was on the hill attempting to close out a 2-1 victory and facing Minnesota slugger Joe Mauer.During the first pitch of the at-bat, Valverde looked ready to fire a fastball past Mauer but forgot to let go of...

Game 2012.154: Royals at Tigers

81-72, .5 games back. There was a brief moment of exuberance last night, when the Tigers were arguably tied for first, and Miguel Cabrera was arguably in the Triple Crown lead. Then stephen spoke and all hell broke loose. Minutes later a Josh Hamilton 6th inning HR and an Adam Dunn 8th inning 3 run blast wiped the smiles away, and the Tigers and Cabrera were knocked back down a...

Sanchez's shutout propels Tigers into first-place tie

DETROIT You just never know how a player will react when the pressure is on, when the stakes are highest if they've never been there. The Tigers found something out about Anibal Sanchez (4-6) Tuesday night. They already knew that the Chicago White Sox (82-72) had lost to the Cleveland Indians earlier in the day and that they had a chance to tie them for first place in the...

45 years in the making, Can Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown?

Miguel Cabrera is on the verge of doing something that hasn’t been done in over four decades; winning MLB’s Triple Crown. By definition, in order to win the Triple Crown, a batter must lead the league in home runs, runs batted in and batting average. Cabrera currently has 42 home runs, 133 runs batted in and a .331 batting average, leading the league in each of these categories...

Game 2012.152: Twins at Tigers

Detroit Tigers, 80-71, 2nd place, .5 back. Well, they say that it’s a hard thing to win both game of a double-header, although why that is harder than winning any other two games in a row has never been explained to me.  At any rate, after some preliminary calculations, I’ve concluded that there is a high probability that it is equally difficult to lose both games of a double...

Little mistakes add up to a lost doubleheader for Tigers

The good news for the Detroit Tigers on Sunday was that Max Scherzer appears to be healthy. The bad news was it may not matter unless the team can quit finding new and innovative ways to lose games. A day Detroit entered knowing it could take first place by sweeping a doubleheader from Minnesota ended with the Twins instead sweeping the punchless Tigers, 10-4 in the opener and...

Shortcomings of Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers on Display in Pathetic Sunday Effort

Whether you want to blame this on Jim Leyland or not is your choice, but here are the facts: The Tigers have lost 11 straight one-run games, all in the past month. Continue reading →

ChiSox, Tigers need to win division

It's an archaic notion, straight out of 1969, 1993 or at least 2011. Win the division or go home. No wild card. No second wild card. No safety net , to borrow the radioactive political term. The American League Central is old school: one bid, two teams, 10 games left. The new wild-card round has transformed races across baseball ... except for this outlier. In every other...

Detroit Tigers Monday Morning Manager

Last Week: 3-4 This Week: KC (9/24-27); at Min (9/28-30) So, What Happened? Just another bob and weave ride on the choppy waters inside the Good Ship Tiger Pop. That’s what this team does to you: raises and lowers your hopes like a school flag. The Tigers fell three games back on Monday after suspect (and MMM is being kind) defense doomed them in a makeup game...

Royals can't hold off Verlander, Tigers

DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander breezed through eight innings and Prince Fielder hit a solo homer, helping the Detroit Tigers steady themselves with a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night. Detroit entered one game behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central after being swept in a doubleheader by Minnesota on Sunday. Verlander (16-8) had little...

Justin Verlander Keeps Cy Young Hopes Alive With Win Over Kansas City

Justin Verlander pitched eight strong innings to pick up his 16th win -- and continued to bolster his Cy Young candidacy. Continue reading →

Tigers bounce back with win over Royals

DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander breezed through eight innings and Prince Fielder hit a solo homer, helping the Detroit Tigers steady themselves with a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night. Detroit entered one game behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central after being swept in a doubleheader by Minnesota on Sunday. Verlander (16-8) had little...

Tigers lose to Twins in doubleheader opener

DETROIT (AP) -- Joe Mauer drove in four runs and the Minnesota Twins rallied against Max Scherzer, handing the contending Detroit Tigers a 10-4 loss Sunday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. The Tigers began the day one-half game behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, who played later at the Los Angeles Angels. After leaving his previous start with shoulder weakness...

Royals-Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers wasted a key chance to move atop the AL Central. They'll hope their ace can get them back on track. A day after being surprisingly swept in a doubleheader, Justin Verlander will try to help the Tigers bounce back Monday night when they host a Kansas City Royals club that caused plenty of problems for the reigning MVP last month. Detroit (80-72) is one game...
Tigers News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.