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.

Giancarlo Stanton to begin rehab assignment tonight

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Giancarlo Stanton will begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday with High-A Tampa. That according to the team’s Tweet to that effect.

Stanton has been on the injured list since April 1 due to a left biceps strain and a left shoulder strain sustained in what Aaron Boone called a “funky swing” at the time. Figure he’ll need a week or so of minor league games to get back to playing speed.

At the time Stanton’s injury seemed to be a catastrophic thing for the team’s chances, but after a sluggish start the Yankees have been on fire for weeks and now sit in first place in the American League East.

Still, getting Stanton back will be a big boost for the New York lineup. He’s hit a few homers in his time, I hear.