Jose Valverde will be remembered by most Tigers fans as a nightmare. A shaky closer who wobbled and sent sharp pains straight to the hearts of die-hards. But Jose Valverde, more times than not, was an extremely reliable closer for the Tigers. Unfortunately, some will not be able to shake Valverde’s 2012 regression that culminated with him blowing up in the postseason.
In 2010, Valverde blew just three games with a WHIP of 1.1 and followed that up with a PERFECT 49-for-49 2011. Valverde’s 50+ saves in a row is the third best streak in baseball history. Although he wasn’t very good in non-save situations in his three years with the Tigers (ERA well north of 5.00 there), Valverde managed to save 110 out of his 118 regular season games when given the opportunity. That’s a 93-percent success rate.
The Tigers closer before Valverde was Fernando Rodney. Rodney, who is ironically the best closer in the American League this year, blew seven games (of 57 opportunities) in his final two seasons as the Tigers’ closer with a horrible WHIP. There were roller coaster photoshops with his mug on them. The closer before Rodney was Todd Jones and he blew 15 games in three seasons with a similarly rocky WHIP. The best WHIP between Jones and Rodney was Jones’ 1.27 in 2006, the year the Tigers went to the World Series. That was WORSE than Jose Valverde’s WHIP this year, a year the Tigers are in the World Series. Jones went on to close for the Tigers for two more years before aging out.
But Valverde has to go, says the fans. After blowing a four-run lead in Game 1 of the ALCS and giving up runs in mop up duty of a blow out against the red-hot hitting Giants of Game 1 of the World Series, I doubt Valverde will pitch again. In fact, I will go to partycasino.com and put a handful of money on it not happening if the prop exists.
At the end of the World Series, Jose Valverde will be a free agent and, after making roughly $8 million for each of the last three seasons, he will likely move on to another team, make far less and close out games pretty well. Meanwhile, the Tigers will likely promote one of their existing bullpen guys and at some point, fans will not be happy and make cardiac jokes because every ninth won’t be 1-2-3 and he’ll probably blow games a higher rate than the last closer they booed out of town.