The Tigers asked Jose Valverde to finish a 10-6 game against the White Sox on Thursday, but he was forced to leave with two outs due to lower back tightness.
Valverde retired the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to Paul Konerko and a double to A.J. Pierzynski. He left mid-at-bat while Alex Rios was up.
“His lower back tightened up, and we had to get him out of there,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the game.
Valverde, who was a perfect 49-for-49 saving games in 2011, hasn’t shown last year’s form at any point this season. He entered the day with a 4.60 ERA and a 13/11 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings. He had also blown two of his nine save chances.
If Valverde has to miss additional time, either Octavio Dotel or Joaquin Benoit would close in his place. Dotel got the save today despite giving up a two-run single after Valverde left.
The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that outfielder Dexter Fowler has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. Outfielder Harrison Bader was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take Fowler’s spot on the roster.
It’s not clear when Fowler suffered the injury, but he went 0-for-12 since a three-hit performance last Friday. He’s hitting .241/.333/.452 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI in 333 plate appearances this season.
Bader, 23, is the Cardinals’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. This season, with Memphis, Bader hit .297/.354/.517 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 381 PA.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.