Tigers skipper Jim Leyland keeping Jose Valverde at closer

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Jose Valverde coughed up four runs in less than inning of work in Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium and now has a brutal 8.79 career postseason ERA. But the Detroit coaching staff is apparently not ready to make a change.

According to beat writer Chris Iott of MLive.com, manager Jim Leyland said Sunday morning that Valverde won’t be used in Game 2  of the ALCS but is not done getting save opportunities this October.

“He doesn’t deserve to become a dart board,” said the veteran Tigers skipper. “Jose Valverde is still a huge part of this team.”

Valverde registered a 3.78 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 69 innings during the regular season, converting 35-of-40 save chances. The 34-year-old right-hander is scheduled to hit the free agent market next month.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.