If the name Bruce Rondon sounds familiar it should, because he was going to be the Detroit Tigers‘ closer last season. But wait, I thought Joaquin Benoit ended up being the closer last season for the Tigers? I never heard of a Bruce Rondon closing games last season. That’s because he famously lost the job before he even got a chance to put work into it. Rondon was terrible in spring training and lost the reigns before really even getting a chance to get his feet wet. He did, however, fight and claw his way back into the bullpen by the midway point of the season and proved to be a solid contributor. He did a nice enough job that the Tigers are yet again willing to gamble this season.
No, Rondon won’t be closing games this season unless Joe Nathan‘s arm falls off, but Rondon will be the primary eighth inning guy which is one of the most crucial jobs on a baseball team. What has this 20-year-old done to secure such a crucial job? Really nothing to this point, but when you see him rear back a 100 mph fastball with ease you realize that there is no question this kid has the talent to be one of the more dominant setup relievers in the game if not one day one of the more dominant closers. Can he live up to the potential so quickly? I think the answer will be yes.
While there were ups and downs last year, Rondon got crucial learning experience that is really going to let him hit the ground running in spring training this year. No longer a fresh face, Rondon knows what is expected of him and has Major League pitching experience which you just can’t simulate. The Tigers are willing to put all of their eggs in Rondon’s basket yet again in 2014, because they know that if he can break through he will completely change the way the Tigers’ bullpen is looked at and perceived around the country.