Why Jose Valverde is the best closer the Detroit Tigers have ever had
Willie Hernandez had the greatest season ever by a Tigers closer, in 1984, when he pitched 140 innings, had a terrific record (9-3) and ERA (1.92) and closed all but one save opportunity. He was the AL Cy Young winner and MVP.
But it didn't last. He was ultimately booed out of town. Mike Henneman and Todd Jones were roller coaster rides. They in the middle-of-the-pack on balance, although you have to admire Jones for his longevity and body of work given his limited ability. He got a lot out of a deceptive motion and a sloppy curveball.
Fernando Rodney? Does he count? Please. John Hiller was great for a period, but it was a long time ago - when the role of closer was much, much different.
Jose Valverde is probably the best closer the Tigers have had. He throws in the mid-to-high 90s, has a nasty slider, a serviceable slider and has developed consistency. The only time he has faltered was the second-half of last season when he was hurt.
You know a closer is really good when it is just taken for granted he will get it done. 43 out of 43 is spectacular. So Valverde hasn't been so good in non-save situations. Ultimately, did it matter?
My column on Lions victory over Tampa Bay Sunday: http://bit.ly/roYnPU
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