Jose Valverde hasn’t pitched since coughing up four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on October 13, with Phil Coke emerging as Jim Leyland’s replacement closer choice.
It’s obviously hard to imagine the Tigers turning back to Valverde as closer at this point, but will they even have enough confidence to use him at all in the World Series?
“I don’t know what’s going to happen from this point on,” Leyland said, via Jason Beck of MLB.com. “Obviously, a lot of people are going to be saying, ‘Save with Coke’ now, but we will play it by ear.”
“We’ll play it by ear” is exactly what Leyland said about the closer situation heading into Game 4 of the ALCS last night and, while there was no save situation to be had thanks to the Tigers blowing out the Yankees, for the third straight game it was Coke on the mound for the final out.
Valverde has allowed 14 runs in 14 career playoff innings and by not getting any mop-up work he’ll have gone 11 days without pitching when the World Series begins Wednesday.
We’re still in the third inning of NLCS Game 5 but the Dodgers are walloping the Cubs thus far, leading 7-0. Outfielder Enrique Hernandez has driven in five of those runs on a solo home run in the second inning and a grand slam in the third.
The other runs came on Cody Bellinger‘s RBI double in the first and Justin Turner‘s RBI single in the second.
The Dodgers loaded the bases on three consecutive singles to start the third inning, chasing starter Jose Quintana from the game. Hector Rondon entered in relief and struck out Logan Forsythe, revealing some light at the end of the tunnel. But his first-pitch slider to Hernandez caught too much of the plate and Hernandez drove it out to right-center field for a grand slam.
Hernandez has had two two-homer games in the regular season, on July 17 this year and April 15 last year. He has never had a five-RBI game. Hernandez’s home run in the second marked his first career postseason home run and RBI as well.
FanGraphs has the Dodgers’ win probability for this game at 96 percent. Clayton Kershaw is on the hill. It’s looking like they’re going to clinch the National League pennant tonight, but there’s still six innings left. We’ve seen big leads evaporate this postseason.