Will the Tigers use Jose Valverde in the World Series?

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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.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.