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Jim Leyland decides on Joaquin Benoit as Tigers’ closer

Apr 11, 2013, 11:19 AM EDT

joaquin-benoit-tigers AP

Phil Coke did most of the closing in the playoffs and the Tigers went into the season talking about a “closer-by-committee” situation, but now manager Jim Leyland has settled on Joaquin Benoit as the primary ninth-inning reliever.

“On a lot of the days, if it’s doable, I think Benoit is the most experienced and versatile enough against righties and lefties to pitch the ninth,” Leyland told Jason Beck of MLB.com.

The part about “righties and lefties” may be a nod to Coke’s struggles versus right-handed hitters, which have made it tough to trust him to close things out. However, because the Tigers won’t use Benoit on three consecutive days Leyland may still have to turn to Coke once in a while.

And of course whenever they decide Jose Valverde is “ready” to rejoin the team he’ll presumably get a chance to reclaim his old role.

  1. jonrox - Apr 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Ugh. I really like Leyland but his lack of imagination is really frustrating here. The lack of a closer hasn’t been the problem so far, anyway; the problem is that half of the bullpen guys are pitching very poorly.

    This probably will actually hurt the Tigers in the short run, because Benoit and Downs have been the only guys who can get people out reliably in high leverage situations so far. Now, if a team gets a few runners on base in the 7th, we’re going to see more of the struggling guys and less of the best guy in the bullpen.

  2. historiophiliac - Apr 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Yeah, yeah. Everybody keep trolling us about V-Wiggles. Pfft!

    This is just a short term solution. I promise things will change afore too long…

  3. weaselpuppy - Apr 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Benoit 2010-11 a closer? Yeah I can buy that….

    Benoit 2012-2013? Uhhh, nope. He has been making a habit of leaving balls out and up over the plate to LH hitters, and his HR rate when ballistic last year (15 HR in 75 IP since 2012? ouch)

    Too bad Al-Al is so fragile….he’s the guy that has the stuff. I guess it’s (a slimmer) Big Potato in a few weeks….

    Anyone have Todd Jones’ number?

  4. proudlycanadian - Apr 11, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I guess that Villarreal is not in the conversation anymore.

    • detroitr1 - Apr 11, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      True dat. Kind of like Ricky Romero.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 11, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      My comment got eaten. :(

      So, how’s the game today? Dog Fister doing well?

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Very well and Johnson stunk.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM

        Maybe a 10-run lead will be good enough for our Closer Committee.

      • proudlycanadian - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        It was.

      • cur68 - Apr 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM

        Tell Leyland that Al Albuquerque is the closer, willya? Jeez.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 11, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        I am not in the habit of telling the G- D- Manager what to do.

  5. suicidalionsfan - Apr 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    I am finding it hard to believe that the organization doesn’t have better options in the minors than Villarreal. He is a bum who has a decent showing about 1 out of 5 outings. As of right now, the entire bullpen ( except Smyly ) is hard to trust in ANY situation.

  6. blacksables - Apr 11, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Why are we still pretending we need someone designated as a closer?

    It’s scary to think how many more games the Yankees would have won if Rivera would have pitched in the 6th or 7th, when he was really needed.

  7. historiophiliac - Apr 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Amusingly, Al-Al is pitching in the 9th today.

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