Tigers' Jose Valverde accepts assignment to Triple-A Toledo

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The much-beleaguered Tigers reliever has accepted his demotion to Triple-A.

Tigers reliever Jose Valverde accepted an assignment to Triple-A Toledo Thursday, the team announced on Twitter.

Valverde was originally designated for assignment on June 21, after struggling through 20 games in 2013, posting an ERA of 5.59. He blew three of his 12 save opportunities in 2013 for the Tigers.

With top relief prospect Bruce Rondon already in Triple-A, it will be an interesting situation to monitor in regard to how they split the closer duties. The Tigers have made no indication of how they'll use the pair.

The team will keep a close watch on Valverde's progress, Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com:

"We'll take a look at his velocity and the movement on his pitches, command on his pitches and his ability to throw a split-finger, which when we first brought him back we thought was very important for him. He really has struggled with that," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. "Again, I think a lot of it is mechanically related. When [Tigers pitching coach] Jeff Jones talks about it, his arm angle is a little bit lower than we would like. That's what we would look for."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland told MLive.com he's happy Valverde will remain the organization. "We'll just see if he can possibly go down there and get it straightened out."

For the Tigers to reach their potential as one of the best teams in baseball, they will need their bullpen to perform better than it has to this point in the season. They are currently 21st among all teams in bullpen ERA, with a collective ERA of 4.05.

Valverde had been the team's closer from 2010-2012, and he had great success until he hit a rough patch at the end of 2012. The team did not originally re-sign him this offseason, but instead picked him up off the scrapheap just three games into the season. The Tigers had considered the previously-mentioned Rondon, but a rough spring training gave them second thoughts. Phil Coke briefly appeared to be their choice for closer, but he also struggled in the role.

Valverde started the season well, saving five of six opportunities. He had a 0.75 ERA on May 27. In the eight games after that date, he allowed 11 runs, including six home runs.

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