The Detroit Tigers had their issues in the closer role last year with Jose Valverde who has yet to sign with another team. After a perfect 2011 season, Valverde struggled to find his game blowing five saves and only having 35 saves on the year.
The incredible rookie Bruce Rondon has the inside track on getting the closer role this year for the Tigers according to executives even after early Spring Training struggles. In four Spring Training games, he has an 0-1 record with no saves or holds because the Tigers have pitched him earlier in games to keep the pressure level down. Despite their efforts to make it easier on the 22-year-old, he has a 7.36 ERA so far, not exactly what Detroit was looking for out of their rookie star.
In his 3.2 innings pitched it seems that his biggest issues were with his command. The Tigers know all about command issues with their closers too, and I don’t think they want to go back down that road again. He’s walked five batters in those 3.2 innings pitched which is something that he will have to work on if he plans on being this teams closer.
I personally like Rondon and I was in favor of putting him on the big league roster, but not as the closer. I always try to err on the side of caution and that’s why I didn’t feel he should jump right in as the closer. Especially after this last postseason when Phil Coke took over in that role beautifully. I want him to get some games under his belt in the middle of the bullpen before they name him the next closer.
Another option is always to bring someone in from the outside, and I wouldn’t be against that if it was the right player and for the right amount of money. Brian Wilson is still out there who I wished the Tigers would have got a long time ago, but honestly it might have been better that they didn’t because he might be cheaper now. It’s unknown what the Tigers will do, but in my mind one thing is certain, Rondon is not ready to be a Major League closer.