The Detroit Tigers entered the season with high hopes that 22-year-old flame thrower Bruce Rondon could take over the closer’s role from Jose Valverde who remains unsigned. After a shaky spring that has seen Rondon surrender five hits, three earned runs, and five walks amidst six strikeouts in 3.2 innings. The Tigers plan to work with Rondon on the side in an effort to fix his mechanics but it looks like the Tigers might be shopping for a closer.
Familiar names have already popped up in relation to the Tigers potential opening at closer. Brian Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Valverde are available in free agency. Carlos Marmol is available in a trade and the Chicago Cubs can’t get rid of him fast enough it seems. None of them come without questions. Valverde can be dismissed outright as it looks like the Tigers have really moved on from their former closer. Wilson is coming off of Tommy John surgery and his rehab will likely keep him out until later in the season. Rodriguez looked awful at times last season and his fastball has lost some life recently. Marmol is hardly someone the Tigers should put their ninth inning trust in.
On the Tigers roster Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel are both options for Jim Leyland. Dotel might be a good fit for the time being. He has some experience in the role notching 21 saves as recently as the 2010 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leyland could move Dotel into the role with Coke as an emergency fallback while not investing anything in another pitcher who could block Rondon if, and when, he is ready.
The Tigers believe Rondon has the stuff to be their closer. Perhaps this little mechanical tweak will be enough to reign in his control so that he can assume the closer’s role. If Rondon isn’t ready the Tigers don’t need to panic and commit any money or future roster space to a new closer. They have options. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to sniff around the market but ultimately the options are already on the roster.