Twitter nation responded, shall I say, "negatively" when I described Wednesday's loss as "stunning."
I was called a shill, a homer, a kiss-up and a few other choice words that are not suitable for a kid-friendly blog, for insinuating that it was surprising that Valverde gave it up. I should have let him have it, the people told me.
Yet, this is a team broadcast, not talk radio. You don't need me to tell you that giving up a game-tying homer on an 0-2 pitch to Lorenzo Cain was unacceptable.
The disappointment in my voice told the story as far as I'm concerned. But I get it, folks are frustrated. You don't invest three hours of your day watching and not get ticked when things go south.
But that is not the issue. The issue is, where do the Tigers go from here to fix the situation?
Most fans realize that a closer can not, and will not, be be perfect. Just check Fernando Rodney's numbers this year. Yet, most fans should be allowed to expect a closer to get the job done most of the time. The problem that Valverde has, is that his leash is extremely short. Already let go by the club once, the tolerance for failure at this point is very low. Actually, non existant.
It's difficult for a "bullpen by committee" to work. In my opinion, relievers perform best when roles are defined. Before the Tigers added Valverde to the roster, the bullpen ERA was 4.53 in the first month. Since Valverde's arrival, the ERA is a run lower at 3.54 during that stretch.
I bring this up only to illustrated how much a defined closer allows the rest of the pen to settle into their roles, even if the closer is not getting it done.
So the question is who should close? The Tigers are actively searching for relief help, presumably for someone that can fill the ninth inning role.
Joaquin Benoit could probably fill the role adequately, but that would pull him out of the eighth inning spot that he has mastered since his arrival three years ago. Again, that would affect everyone else's role.
Could Bruce Rondon do it. Maybe, but he strikes me as a guy that needs to ease into the spot by pitching late in games first and then eventually becoming the long-term answer. He has 10 saves and a .077 ERA at Toledo and some big league time already this year.
The Tigers are clearly the class of the division and they have a chance to pull away from the pack as the summer wears on. For as good as they are, the ninth inning needs to be addressed.
I have a feeling the club knows that.