By this measure, the Tigers are the best team in baseball, with a substantial gap over everyone else. While last year’s Detroit team was built around a few great players hoping to compensate for a lot of weaknesses in the supporting cast, this year’s version includes a lot of upgrades at those complementary spots, and that depth pushes Detroit to the top of the pack. I’ve been hailing the Nationals as the best team in baseball due to the fact that their roster really doesn’t have any glaring flaws, but Detroit is similarly sound across the board. Given the weakness of the rest of the AL Central, the Tigers are almost certainly the team with the best odds of playing in October, and as long as they can keep their big guns healthy, they have a very good shot at returning to the World Series.
Anyone of a certain skill set should be able to close, we like to say. But Coke may not have the skill set to be successful for long. He is quite good at getting left-handers out, but he has shown repeatedly through his career that cannot be said of right-handers. Against the right lineups, Coke may be the perfect ninth inning choice. Against others, he may be a terrible pick. So long as Leyland uses him properly in the committee, Coke will look great. Just be cautious about going too far.
You won’t necessarily leave your best pitcher out in the bullpen when you have a one run lead, one out and runners on second and third in the seventh inning. You are more likely to look at what you have in the pen, guess this is as tough a situation as your bullpen will face this night, and go with the appropriate arm.
There’s just a lot more uncertainty with this approach. If nobody has set roles, fans will be prone to question every decision. “He’s going with Benoit now? Isn’t this a good situation for Alburquerque?” All the time, every decision, fans will ask those kind of questions. Compare that with setting roles for your guys.
“Any one of them might get the ball to get the third out in the ninth,” he said. “That’s just pretty much the way you have to do it when you’re in this situation, which is fine.” The news comes on the heels of the club’s decision Thursday to option hard-throwing right-hander Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo where he will serve as the team’s closer.