LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Jose Valverde has a tough act to follow — his own.
After converting all 49 of his save chances in 2011, Valverde will try to keep his streak going this season and help Detroit defend its AL Central title. The demonstrative closer is part of a talented bullpen that also includes Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel.
Valverde went 2-4 with a 2.24 ERA last season. He wasn’t always overpowering, but his unblemished mark in save situations was a big reason the Tigers won the division so easily. He’s actually saved 51 games in a row dating to 2010.
That’s still well short of the record. Eric Gagne saved 84 straight, a run that lasted nearly two years from 2002-04.