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Leyland: Valverde won't close

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
When will Jim Leyland trust Jose Valverde again? (Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Jim Leyland is loyal, but also realistic.

So even while Leyland continues to call Jose Valverde his closer, he said he won't use Valverde if the Tigers have a save situation in Sunday's Game 2 of the ALCS.

"The best way to put it is he will still be our closer, but he will not close the game today," Leyland said. "This is the decision we came up with at this time."

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Valverde, who was perfect in save situations in 2011, has had a much tougher time this year, and especially over this last week. The Tigers lost Game 4 of the Division Series when Valverde couldn't hold a ninth-inning lead on Wednesday in Oakland, and Valverde couldn't hold a four-run ninth-inning lead against the Yankees in Saturday's Game 1 of the ALCS.

"It looks to me like he's kind of waiting for something bad to happen," Leyland said.

Leyland did not say who he will use in Valverde's place, and left open the possibility Valverde could be used in a closer's role later in the postseason.

Octavio Dotel seems the most likely choice to close games in Valverde's place.

Dotel has 109 career saves, but has never had one in the postseason. He's most often considered to be a pitcher who is better when not used in the eighth or ninth innings.

"I would love to know who's going to be the closer," Dotel said before Sunday's game. "All I can say is I'm ready for any situation."

Leyland said he and his staff met late into the night on the Valverde situation. He said pitching coach Jeff Jones has found some flaws in Valverde's delivery, and plans to work with him on them Sunday.

"We're definitely going to need him in some form to get through this postseason," Leyland said.

 
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