The Detroit Tigers have decided to exercise closer Jose Valverde’s $9 million option, bringing the right-hander back for the 2012 season. Valverde, who led the Majors with 49 saves and 70 games finished in 2011, did not blow an opportunity this year.
Valverde could certainly make things interesting at times for Tigers’ fans. As we all saw this postseason, Valverde’s saves were not always quick or easy. Nonetheless, if you consider a closer’s job to be collecting saves, there was none better at the craft than Valverde in 2011.
During the regular season, Valverde maintained a 2.24 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over his 75 appearances spanning 72 1/3 innings. The righty struck out 69 batters in 2011 while walking 34 and holding opposing hitters to a .198 average and .580 OPS. These impressive marks led FanSided to name Valverde their 2011 Reliever of the Year.
Valverde also managed to collect three saves during the 2011 playoffs. Before getting shellacked by the Rangers in game four of the ALCS (four ER, three H, one BB, 1 1/3 IP), Valverde allowed two earned runs over six innings while walking and striking out six.
With the decision now official, the Tigers have the back end of their bullpen shored up for the 2012 season. Valverde combined with Joaquin Benoit to give Detroit a solid setup-closer combo. Behind the pair, Detroit went 77-0 in contests they led after seven frames.
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