If Joaquin Benoit is now closing for the Tigers whenever he can, as it sounds like he will, who will be the Tigers’ set-up man? It can’t be Benoit setting up for Benoit. Although Benoit had a four-out save in Minnesota, “not many people hold up getting four-out saves,” manager Jim Leyland said Thursday. “I’d say (that save) was an exception. “I would not look for four-out saves. We’re just trying to win games.” So who will set up for Benoit, now that Leyland has stopped short, but only by a hair, of naming him his closer from this point on? Benoit, Leyland said, will close only when “he is able to pitch, hasn’t closed too much, hasn’t been overused and we have a chance to win the game.” But by vacating the set-up role, Benoit’s switch creates a role vacancy — just the kind of thing the Tigers hoped to avoid while trying to find a dependable closer. First of all, Valverde and Benoit are not switching roles. Benoit is going to close, but Valverde isn’t going to set up. Other than Leyland’s intention to use Valverde “intelligently,” it’s not clear at what point it will be considered intelligent to use him. Basically, what the Tigers are looking to do is replace Benoit’s eighth-inning 2.20 ERA — and since Drew Smyly hasn’t yet allowed a run in the eighth (over 121⁄3 innings), he could very well be the choice. The transition to such a situation might already be in the works, in fact, what with Leyland’s stated intention of using Smyly in shorter stints from here on. But the uncertainty that could topple all intentions is whether Benoit can pitch as often as a closer sometimes is required to.
Joaquin Benoit's ascension to closer creates setup man vacancy
Detroit News | Jun 21