The game winning shot came at the expense of the Astros closer Jose Veras. Today, Veras learned that he will jump four spots in the standings with the trade that brings him to Detroit.
The Tigers dealt for Veras despite the fact that he did not pitch well against Detroit this season. In 3 2/3 innings, he allowed the Avila home run and walked three. Yet, his numbers for the season were good.
Veras saved 19 games for the last place Astros in 22 opportunities. He adds an experienced arm to the back end of a bullpen that has shown signs of improvement the last two weeks. Since the middle of the month, the Tigers bullpen has been solid. In 22 1/3 innings, the pen has struck out 19 with only 5 walks and opponents are hitting just .195 against.
Joaquin Benoit is still clearly the closer, and he deserves to be. He has embraced the role after some early reservations and has been fantastic. However, Jim Leyland has warned that Benoit needs to be watched closely and probably would not pitch three days in a row. Veras provides insurance for that scenario.
The arrival of Veras strengthens the Tigers relief corps, but the continued contributions of Drew Smyly and Bruce Rondon are just as critical. The Tigers could easily have proceeded with their current crew, especially with the possibility of Octavio Dotel's return, but adding this piece makes them stronger.
The only question is how much the Tigers gave up in return. Class A outfielder Danry Vasquez heads to the Astros in return. By all accounts, Vasquez is a fine prospect with nice upside. Giving up prospects is never easy. Yet, the one thing I have learned is that Class A is a long way away from the big leagues.
When the Tigers traded for Jarrod Washburn in 2009, they included pitching prospect Mauricio Robles in the deal with Seattle. Robles had high strikeout numbers in Class A that season and some felt the Tigers would rue the day they allowed him to leave the organization. After 3 1/2 sub-par seasons in the Mariners organization, Robles is now in the minor leagues with the Phillies.
Only time will tell if adding this piece was worth the risk. I think it was. The Tigers have an opportunity to win the whole thing again this year, and to sit by idly would not have enhanced their chances.