Jim Leyland will think about whether to replace Jose Valverde in closer role

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde, left, passes

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Jose Valverde, left, passes manager Jim Leyland as he leaves the game in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS. (Oct. 13, 2012) (Credit: AP)

What is the matter with Jose Valverde?

In the span of four days on two different coasts, the Tigers' closer has had two spectacular ninth-inning meltdowns.

A little more than 72 hours after blowing a save in ALDS Game 4 in Oakland, Valverde was called in to protect a four-run lead against the Yankees in the ninth inning of ALCS Game 1 Saturday night at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he allowed a two-run homer to Ichiro Suzuki and an eye-popping two-run homer by Raul IbaƱez that tied the score.


ALCS box scores: Game 4 | Game 3 Game 2 | Game 1


Though the Tigers managed to pull out a 6-4 win in the 12th inning, the pressure is mounting on Tigers manager Jim Leyland to reconsider whether Valverde should stay in the closer's role.

Leyland said after the game that he wouldn't discuss making a change -- but went on to say his staff would discuss the situation.

"We really want to put our heads together and discuss it first, to be honest with you," he said. "We are going to talk about it, but I don't have any information on it yet."

Leyland was asked why he stayed with Valverde in the inning when it was obvious that he was struggling.

Said Leyland: "Well, to be honest with you, it's one of those things. He has been the closer, and he had a rough outing in Oakland and obviously a rough outing tonight. And that's why we are going to have a discussion."

Valverde converted all 49 of his save opportunities in the regular season last year, plus three more in the playoffs, including the ALDS Game 5 clincher at Yankee Stadium. He had a 2.24 ERA and struck out 69 in 721/3 innings.

This year, he had 35 saves in 40 opportunities and a 3.78 ERA. Since Sept. 1, he has an 8.10 ERA.

Valverde said he wants to remain the closer. When asked if he needs a break, he said, "I don't think so. I've been doing my job for a long time and I think I can do it. I think everybody passes through a bad moment. But it's now in the past. It's over."

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