Jim Leyland on Tigers’ closer situation: “Just going to play it by ear, see what happens”

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After pitching in a simulated game over the weekend Jose Valverde told reporters that he corrected a mechanical flaw responsible for his postseason struggles, but when asked if Valverde will resume closing in the World Series manager Jim Leyland was non-committal.

Leyland used the same phrasing he repeatedly uttered during the ALCS, saying the Tigers are “just going to play it by ear, see what happens” in the ninth inning, leading Jason Beck of MLB.com to conclude that it will be closer-by-committee based on matchups.

Left-hander Phil Coke emerged as the Tigers’ closer during the ALCS, finishing the final three games of the series, but the Yankees’ lineup being filled with left-handed hitters played a big role in that and the only lefty bats in the Giants’ lineup are Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, and Brandon Crawford.

In other words, if Leyland truly manages the ninth inning based on matchups Coke is unlikely to be the top choice. If instead Leyland has completely soured on Valverde and now trusts Coke to get the final three outs the Giants’ right-handed hitters will have some favorable matchups with the game on the line late. Righties hit .396 off Coke during the regular season, so even if Valverde remains out of the mix–he hasn’t pitched since October 13–Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel could play a big role.

Report: Dodgers to sign Joe Kelly to three-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Dodgers are close to signing reliever Joe Kelly. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the deal is for three years and around $25 million.

Kelly, 30, posted a 4.39 ERA with a 68/32 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen during the regular season in 2018. He turned it up a notch in the postseason, limiting the opposition to two runs (one earned) in 11 1/3 innings with a 13/0 K/BB ratio.

With the Red Sox, Kelly mostly pitched seventh and eighth innings ahead of closer Craig Kimbrel. He will likely do the same ahead of closer Kenley Jansen, sharing the workload with Pedro Báez.