Jim Leyland decides on Joaquin Benoit as Tigers’ closer

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Phil Coke did most of the closing in the playoffs and the Tigers went into the season talking about a “closer-by-committee” situation, but now manager Jim Leyland has settled on Joaquin Benoit as the primary ninth-inning reliever.

“On a lot of the days, if it’s doable, I think Benoit is the most experienced and versatile enough against righties and lefties to pitch the ninth,” Leyland told Jason Beck of MLB.com.

The part about “righties and lefties” may be a nod to Coke’s struggles versus right-handed hitters, which have made it tough to trust him to close things out. However, because the Tigers won’t use Benoit on three consecutive days Leyland may still have to turn to Coke once in a while.

And of course whenever they decide Jose Valverde is “ready” to rejoin the team he’ll presumably get a chance to reclaim his old role.

Carlos Carrasco pitched in game action

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Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this summer. He’d been out since June. Despite that diagnosis, he and the Indians insisted that he would make every effort to come back this year. Yesterday he took a big step in that direction, making his first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron.

He only tossed one inning, walking one batter and striking out another. He thew 16 pitches but cranked it up to 97 with his first offering. Not too shabby.

It’s unclear what the timetable is for him returning to Cleveland. If they intend to use him as a starter again he’ll obviously need several more appearances to get stretched out. If he’s to be used as a reliever, fewer obviously. What his stamina level is and will be is also an open question.

However that gets sorted out, it’s good so have him back in action.