DETROIT -- The final test Al Alburquerque received at Triple-A Toledo in late August in his road back from elbow surgery before being recalled to Detroit was a set of back-to-back appearances. In the second game, he struck out the side in order, and Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said he looked ready. A few days later, Alburquerque was back in Detroit.
Alburquerque hasn't pitched back-to-back days since. The way the Tigers bullpen lines up with the Division Series roster, there's a good chance he might get another test.
Manager Jim Leyland was asked after the Tigers' Division Series roster came out if Alburquerque was available to pitch in consecutive games.
"We would hope so," Leyland said. "It's not the best situation, but we didn't want to use [Brayan] Villarreal on back-to-back days either.
Alburquerque underwent surgery last December to repair a fracture at the tip of his elbow. His return gave the Tigers a valuable strikeout specialist who proved to be a critical piece in the club's run to last year's division title.
Alburquerque struggled last postseason, but opinions differ on whether it was a case of an ailing elbow or rookie nerves.