UPDATE: It’s official.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Tigers are expected to exercise their $9 million option on closer Jose Valverde, which is no surprise after he went 49-for-49 converting saves in the regular season.
Valverde didn’t pitch quite as well as the perfect save percentage would suggest, posting the lowest strikeout rate (8.6 per nine innings) of his career at age 33 while walking 34 batters in 72 innings.
Toss in the abundance of quality veteran relievers on the free agent market this offseason and Valverde may not have gotten a long-term deal at $9 million per season on the open market, but for a one-year commitment that salary is much more palatable.
And while the save percentage may overrate Valverde some he’s still a damn good pitcher, with a 3.02 career ERA and marks of 2.24, 3.00, 2.33, 3.38, and 2.66 during the past five seasons. Detroit also has Papa Grande’s primary setup man, Joaquin Benoit, under contract for $5.5 million in both 2012 and 2013, so the back of the bullpen is locked in and the Tigers have an in-house replacement for Valverde should he walk after next year.
Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez sat out the final series of the regular season in order to rest a strained left intercostal muscle, but there was good news coming out of a workout today in advance of Tuesday’s Wild Card game vs. the Yankees.
This has been a lingering issue for Gomez, who missed 13 straight games with the injury last month. He aggravated the strain on a throw to home plate last Wednesday and was forced to sit while the Astros fought to keep their season alive. Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last week that Gomez’s injury would typically take 45-50 days to recover from, so it’s fair to wonder how productive he can be during the postseason.
Gomez mostly struggled after coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline, batting .242 with four home runs and a .670 OPS over 41 games.
Nathan Eovaldi hasn’t pitched in a month due to right elbow inflammation, but he told Chad Jennings of the Journal News today that he expects to pitch out of the bullpen if the Yankees advance to the ALDS against the Royals.
Eovaldi was originally expected to throw a 35-pitch bullpen session today, but the Yankees moved up his timetable after the news that CC Sabathia was checking into alcohol rehab. Instead, he threw 10 pitches in a bullpen session before facing hitters for the first time since his injury.
There isn’t enough time for Eovaldi to get stretched out to start during the ALDS, but he could still play an important role for the Yankees, especially with Adam Warren looking like the most likely option to replace Sabathia in the rotation.