Every year, it seems like the position of closer gets more and more dicey in the MLB. Between teams going to closer-by-committees and the quick hook that many managers have, it’s hard to trust anyone to nail down the ninth inning for your fantasy baseball team.
Going into the 2013 season, nearly every closer in baseball has some sort of question mark next to their name and has a reason not to draft them. Because of this, more than ever, saves will truly be anyone’s guess in 2013.
One name that should stick out to you as trustworthy is actually a name that has been thrown around a lot this off-season as a major unknown. That name is Detroit Tigers flamethrower, Bruce Rondon.
Rondon will enter spring training as the anointed closer despite never having pitched at the Big League level. While obviously this doesn’t inspire your confidence, there are several reasons why we could be looking at the next Craig Kimbrel.
First of all, Rondon is only 22 years old, yet he has already registered 65 career saves in the Minor Leagues. Obviously it is a different animal shutting it down in the show, but as far as prospects go, he is relatively well seasoned already. Couple this experience, with a dominating set of Minor League stats, and I think you will be able to find a little more to get excited about.
The guy is an absolute strikeout machine. In 2012, he struck out 66 batters in 53 innings. His career strikeout per nine is 9.8. Though doing it at the Major League level will be an adjustment, swing and miss stuff like Rondon’s translates very well. He throws 100 mph and that is not something that varies from level to level.
Rondon is more than just strikeouts though. He has not posted an ERA higher than 2.25 over a season since 2009, and his career hits per nine is a shade above six. He has also only given up six homers in his entire career.
I must warn you that there is a bit of tarnish on Rondon’s resume. He has a career walks per nine rate of 5.1. However, he has improved his control in each of the last three seasons and cut his walk total to 26 in 53 innings pitched in 2012. I don’t foresee this being a major issue in 2013.
The one thing that has me so sure that Rondon will be a value this season is the vote of confidence he has received from Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski has already named him the closer, ahead of proven veterans such as Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and playoff hero, Phil Coke. All three of those guys have the ability to close, but the Tigers see something special in Rondon, so they’re giving him the chance.
I hate to plug a rookie that has never seen Big League action before too hard, but I am going to go out on a major limb for Rondon. I truly believe that he holds on to his job and will be a top five fantasy closer in 2013.
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