When the Tigers placed bullpen phenom Al Alburquerque on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching elbow it was a frightening moment indeed as diagnosis' like elbow inflammation, or elbow/forearm tenderness have a nasty way of turning into, 'will undergo Tommy John surgery.'
The diagnosis is still worrisome for me, and should be for fans of the Tigers as well but it's obviously good to see that the team did the right thing, placing him on the disabled list immediately instead of asking the player to try and work through it. Not that a fifteen day respite necessarily cures anything if something is seriously wrong, but it's the proper amount of caution in this circumstance.
In Alburquerque's absence the team gave former setup man and once highly touted prospect Ryan Perry another chance after he missed much of spring training with an eye infection, then was demoted after a series of ugly outings in late May left him with an ERA of 12.19 over his first 10.1 innings of work. He did well with the chance, posting a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings, and striking out six while walking four.
Where Perry has been successful and a bit lucky since coming back however, Alburquerque has been nothing short of dominant since joining the team two weeks into the season. After making just three appearances for the AAA Mudhens, the team called him up and he's posted an almost unfathomable 14.42 strikeout rate, which, when paired with his 54% groundball rate has more than helped him cover up for a 7.06 walk rate.
He's accomplished such impressive peripherals with a fastball that averages 95.5mph and a very hard biting slider at 85.7mph that has been one of baseball's most effective pitches. Indeed watching Alburquerquer it's a wonder (and a borderline crime) that two other organizations saw fit to allow him to leave.
Thankfully for the Tigers however, they did. His presence, along with veterans Benoit and Valverde help make the Tigers bullpen one of the league most stout.