If the Detroit Tigers have a late lead in Game 2 and the opportunity to take a 2-0 lead against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, they won't be using reliever Jose Valverde to close out the game, as manager Jim Leyland told reporters before Sunday's game.
Leyland insists that he still considers Valverde the team's closer, but he'd prefer to use a different option if a save opportunity arises on Sunday. The manager added that, "It looks to me like [Valverde is] kind of waiting for something bad to happen right now."
After having another solid regular season with Detroit in 2012, Valverde has struggled in a pair of recent appearances during the team's postseason run. In his past two outings, the 34-year-old has allowed seven runs while recording just four outs, a far cry from his career ERA of 3.11.
During his discussion with reporters, Leyland said that the closer, "doesn't deserve to become a dart board" while he struggles. He also specified one possible cause for the pitcher's inability to get hitters out, noting that the pitcher's "delivery has become too slow."
Leyland didn't mention who might replace Valverde in a possible save situation, but other relievers who have pitched in high-leverage situations for the team this season include right-handers Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit, and left-hander Phil Coke.