Jose Valverde

Jose Valverde Getty

Padres sign Jose Valverde

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According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, the Padres have signed reliever Jose Valverde. It’s presumably a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Valverde, who turns 37 in March, posted a 5.66 ERA and 23/10 K/BB ratio over 20 2/3 innings with the Mets last season before being released in late May. It’s easy to forget this, but he actually served as New York’s closer for a stretch after Bobby Parnell’s Tommy John surgery and went 2-for-4 in save opportunities. The Mets turned to Jenrry Mejia after Valverde’s release and the bullpen actually became a strength as the year moved along.

Valverde is unlikely to be trusted with a late-inning role again, but the Padres are at least willing to see if he has anything left in the tank.

Rick Porcello throws second consecutive shutout

rick porcello getty
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Tigers righty Rick Porcello didn’t record a shutout over the first 163 starts of his major league career.

Now he has two shutouts in the past six days.

Porcello limited the American League West-leading Athletics to four hits and induced a whopping 17 groundouts in the Tigers’ 3-0 victory on Tuesday night in Detroit. Porcello failed to register a single strikeout but he also issued zero walks, throwing 68 of his 95 pitches for strikes. J.D. Martinez led the way offensively with a two-run homer.

Porcello is tied with Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka for the major league lead in wins with 11.

His streak of 25 1/3 scoreless innings is the longest for a Tigers pitcher since Jose Valverde in 2010 and he’s the first Tigers starter to throw back-to-back shutouts since Jack Morris rattled off three straight in 1986.

The Tigers’ bullpen woes continue

Joba Chamberlain
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Joe Nathan was supposed to put an end to the late-inning problems for the Tigers. After a couple of years of dealing with Jose Valverde and moving setup men into the closer’s role, the Tigers said “screw it” this past season and paid out money for a Proven Closer. ™ Except Joe Nathan has been pretty awful and the patchwork in which Brad Ausmus has engaged hasn’t been successful either.

Last night, after Nathan pitched in two consecutive games (and wasn’t all that good in them anyway) Ausmus called on Joba Chamberlain to protect a 3-2 ninth inning lead. It went like this:

  • Brock Holt single;
  • Strikeout;
  • Dustin Pedroia walk;
  • David Ortiz three-run homer which essentially ended the game.

Chamberlain gave up another single after that and the inning could’ve gotten even more out of control if it hadn’t been for a subsequent double play. When it was all said and done, the Tigers ended last night with a bullpen ERA of 4.77 which is the worst in the American League.

Chamberlain had been pretty effective on the year until last night, but performances like that are what give managers pause about putting them in save situations. As do contracts like Nathan’s, for what it’s worth. The idea of just pitching your setup man in the ninth inning a la Joaquin Benoit just presents so many hurdles, real or contrived, just doesn’t come easily to most teams.

Or course, it’s probably worth noting that Joaquin Benoit was pretty darn good last season. Just sayin’!