Tigers go back to Pappa
APR 25, 2013 8:47a ET
It was difficult to watch Papa Grande’s playoff meltdown, especially the snapshot of him in the dugout searching for answers as tears welled up in his eyes.
Once the season ended, the Tigers let it be known that Valverde wasn't part of their future and let him hit the free-agent market.
What a difference eight months of not having a definitive closer does to a team’s thinking.
So, the stage was set for the comeback of the century with all of Detroit tuned in Wednesday night. And it was great theater.
With the Tigers clinging to a two-run lead, the first-place Kansas City Royals were coming to bat in the top of ninth, and standing on the mound for Detroit was their new/old closer, Jose Valverde.
Papa Grande retired the Royals 1-2-3 on 18 pitches (all fast balls) and recorded his first save of the season.
Reaction to Valverde’s first outing was a blend of happiness, relief and cautious optimism. It was only one game, and the true test for Valverde will be in the coming weeks to see if he maintains his velocity and if he has confidence to throw his splitter consistently.
For now, however, the Tigers have a closer. A closer that they are comfortable with, a closer that has done it before and a closer that allows the bullpen to settle down into distinct roles.
How long will Valverde 2.0 last?
Who knows, but at least the Tigers have finally realized that a bullpen by committee is just bull.