What’s the Detroit Tigers’ Contingency Plan for Their Closer?

By justingawel
Phil Coke Alex Avila Detroit Tigers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s something we’ve been nervous about since last October.

No, it’s not whether the State of Michigan will finally step in and manage the flaming tailspin catastrophe the city of Detroit has caught itself in. It’s not whether or not the Detroit Lions will continue their longer-than-Thanksgiving tradition of losing on the fourth Thursday of November.

No, what’s been genuinely nerve-wracking has been speculating on who is going to close out games for the Detroit Tigers in 2013.

The hard-throwing Bruce Rondon was the initial front-runner for the position, but he has exhibited control issues through the first two weekends of spring training games. Yes, Rondon is a hard-throwing man-child who could beat all of us and our dads up, but the jury is still out on if Tigers’ skipper Jim Leyland will trust him with a late-inning lead early in the season.

The committee of closers and set-up men Leyland used in the playoffs last year could see an expanded role this season. Joaquin Benoit has been effective as a set-up man, but unproven as a closer. Al Albuquerque has been awesome when he has played, and that breaking bad slider he’s utilized as a strikeout pitch has been nasty as always.

Unfortunately, Albuquerque had a screw inserted into his throwing elbow to treat a stress fracture following the 2011 season, so  his future health and performance are truly as unpredictable as Heisenberg himself.

Phil Coke is a strange entity; I mean, we all can recognize how Coke can be the answer to all life’s problems, but can also be inconsistent in terms of quality. Octavio Dotel is the ultimate journeyman and has closing experience, but, at the same time, I don’t think the Tigers have that much confidence in the 39-year old closing games for them.

The Tigers are aware of their closer problem, but are no closer to solving it at the moment. There’s still a few more weeks of spring training to sort it out, but don’t be surprised if a unfamiliar face, like Rick Porcello, takes a crack at the job too.


Justin Gawel is a Spaghetti-O’s enthusiast who mainly writes for Rant Sports about the Detroit Tigers. Follow him on Google+ for all of his article postings.

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