José Rafael Valverde (born March 24, 1978 in San Pedro De Macoris, Dominican Republic) is a closer in Major League Baseball, currently for the Detroit Tigers. His nickname is Papa Grande. He throws both two and four-seam fastballs, a splitter, and a slider.Template:Citation needed Both of his fastballs are thrown in the mid to high nineties. His splitter is probably known as his best and most effective pitch.
Valverde made his Major League Baseball debut in 2003 to help out the injury plagued Arizona Diamondbacks, joining Brandon Webb and Andrew Good after injuries to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling left the team out of contention.
Although he had been the Diamondbacks closer since replacing Brian Bruney in 2005, trouble on the mound in the month of June 2006 forced management to give the role to Jorge Julio.Template:Citation needed Valverde regained the role after spending some time with the Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate, the Tucson Sidewinders. He returned to the closer role in early September (as Julio became too inconsistent)Template:Citation needed and pitched well in his return. Valverde finished the 2006 season with a record of two wins, three losses, an ERA of 5.84 and 18 saves.
On June 23, 2007, Valverde passed Matt Mantei as the Diamondbacks all-time saves leader, with his 75th, a perfect ninth against the Baltimore Orioles. Valverde made the 2007 MLB All-Star Game as a closer for Arizona. Until he was traded during the 2007 offseason, Valverde was the Diamondbacks closer, and led all of Major League Baseball in saves (47) during the 2007 regular season.
On September 25, 2007, Valverde was named as one of 10 finalist for the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award."Template:Citation needed
He finished his first year in Houston with 44 saves in 51 chances, a 6–4 record, 83 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.38. He led the NL in saves for the second straight year and was second in the majors in saves for 2008. When Valverde entered into the game, a brief video set to Percy Rodrigues's opening narration of the trailer from Jaws played on the Minute Maid Park screen, leading into a montage of his best moments as an Astro backed by the Saliva song "Ladies and Gentlemen."Template:Citation needed
Following the 2009 season, Valverde filed for free agency, rejecting the Astros' offer of salary arbitration.
On January 19, 2010, Valverde signed a two-year, $14 million contract, with a third year team option for $9 million with the Detroit Tigers. Through the first half of the season he has a an ERA of 0.94 and had scoreless streak of 24 innings, which is longest in Tigers history passing Todd Jones who previously held the record at 22 games in 2000.
Pitching style Edit
Valverde throws both two and four-seam fastballs, a splitter, and a slider. His four-seam fastball can be clocked anywhere between 97 to 100 MPH. Valverde's two-seam fastball usually is clocked around the mid 90s. His splitter and slider are usually clocked in the high 80s, low 90s. Valverde is well-known for using a high percentage of a given kind of fastball at a time, at times throwing four-seamers exclusively in one outing, then switching to splitters almost exclusively the next game. He makes up for having only about average control with an overwhelming combination of speed, movement and aggressiveness in attacking the strike zone.
Valverde is also known for his energetic, highly emotional style on the mound. He frequently celebrates outs and wins very demonstratively. Some have questioned the sportsmanship of his behavior, including former teammate Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks who has called him "'unprofessional' and questioned his intelligence by saying Valverde is "Just Dumb".""
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