It didn’t take long for fans to see how the Detroit Tigers closer committee was going to work. The strategy was put to the test right away against the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day. The committee was called to order in the seventh innings when Al “slider man” Alburqerque got the Tigers out of a jam by fanning two. Meanwhile Jim Leyland had Benoit warming up to pitch the 8th. Nothing surprising until the 9th when Leyland left Benoit in to face the right-handed Josh Willingham. When the left-handed Justin Morneau strode to the plate Leyland brought in Coke to face the next two Twins left handers. The result: SAVE! The committee did it’s job today.
And on this team; it could work all season.
The Detroit Tigers have excellent starting pitching. Any of the starters can go 6 or 7 innings on any given day. That gives Jim Leyland three or four fresh arms at the end of the game, allowing him to play match-ups and percentages. Jim Leyland loves to play the percentages.
So do the Tigers even need an everyday closer? Right now the answer is no. They certainly shouldn’t spend resources to trade for one.
Other Game Notes
Jim Leyland was more aggressive than usual on Opening Day. He employed the hit and run early in the and sacrificed with two on and nobody out. He was also pacing when Smyly loaded the bases putting the Tigers lead in jeopardy. You normally don’t see that kind of behavior from the skipper until after the all-star break. The entire team seemed to be playing with a sense of urgency. Unwilling to give even one game away.
It was great to see Victor Martinez in the line-up. And no one was happier to see him than Prince Fielder. There was a point in the game where Fielder came to the plate with one out and Torii Hunter at third-base. Last year the opposing team would have pitched around Fielder to set up the double play. This year will be different because Victor Martinez is hitting behind Prince and Victor is just as good with Runners In Scoring Position. Victor Martinez’ presence in the line-up will positively affect the offense even when he doesn’t get on base.