DETROIT -- Since Jose Valverde's been with the Tigers, manager Jim Leyland has frequently fielded questions on using his closer in the ninth inning in non-save situations.
Despite Valverde's 4.38 ERA in non-save situations this season, and his 5.79 ERA in the same situations last year, his stance remains the same: Things happen too fast in the Majors to risk not putting in your closer because the team is up by five rather than three runs or fewer.
"My No. 1 thing when I got a four-run lead or something like that and I have to win the game, I don't like to take chances," Leyland said prior to Sunday's game.
For Leyland, that means starting an inning with his closer instead of putting another pitcher in the game, waiting until a couple of guys get on base to make it a save opportunity, then turning to his ninth-inning man.
"All of a sudden you start somebody else and it's four, five to nothing and all of a sudden the first two guys get on [then] you go to your closer," Leyland said. "All of a sudden you're bringing him into a totally different situation. So I think you've got to be careful with that."
It was 5-0 when Valverde entered Saturday night's game against the White Sox. He allowed a double and an RBI triple to make it 5-1, before retiring the final batter.
Had another run scored, the skipper said he would've turned to Brayan Villarreal, who was warming in the bullpen. He preferred not to use the two the other way around and compared it to subbing out Miguel Cabrera defensively late in a game.
"It's liking taking a guy out for defense. I don't like taking Cabrera out in a four-, five-run game," he said. "Things happen too fast. You'd like to save him a little bit on his ankle, but things happen too fast up here."