Tigers option Rondon, go with closer by committee

The Tigers will open the season with a closer by committee. It just won’t include their closer of the future.

Detroit set its pitching staff Thursday morning by optioning hard-throwing closer prospect Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo along with long reliever Luis Marte. With that, the seven-man bullpen is set for Opening Day, with lefty Darin Downs and high-strikeout middle relievers Al Alburquerque and Brayan Villarreal joining long reliever Drew Smyly and veterans Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who announced the moves, said manager Jim Leyland will mix and match relievers in the ninth inning according to matchups. He didn’t announce the key members in the committee, but Coke, Benoit and Dotel would be most likely to get the bulk of the save opportunities.

“There’ll be a guy out there in the ninth to close games for us,” Dombrowski said. “We have guys that we feel very comfortable can close games. We may not have a closer anointed, but we have many guys that we think can close games. And so Jim will, kind of like he did in the postseason at times last year, mix and match.”

As for Rondon, he’ll be the closer for the Mud Hens as he tries to find the consistency that eluded him at enough points this spring to leave Tigers officials uneasy about opening the season with him in the big leagues.

“As you know, we like him a lot,” Dombrowski said. “He has thrown the ball very well at times this spring. All the times, you can see his arm strength and all that’s attached. But we just thought he would benefit a little bit more by some more development time. Very similar to guys like, say, [Avisail] Garcia or [Nick] Castellanos, premium prospects that we just think would benefit by more time at Triple-A.

“At times, he has been very, very good, and at other times, he’s been very inconsistent.”

Rondon had a rough start to the spring as he worked through some mechanical issues. A tweak in his delivery from pitching coach Jeff Jones seemed to get him into a dominant form, but he struggled in a couple outings down the stretch, including a rough appearance Wednesday in which he walked two batters and let in a walk on a balk after he and catcher Alex Avila had a mix-up on signs.

All the while, those struggles took place under the scrutiny of team officials, talent evaluators and media alike.

“Obviously [Tuesday] he was lights-out, but I think everybody has unrealistic expectations,” Avila said Wednesday. “I mean, every time he pitches, you guys ask how he did. It seems like everybody expects him to have a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts every inning. That’s never going to be the case.

Rondon finishes his spring with eight runs allowed on 17 hits over 12 1/3 innings. He struck out 19 batters, but walked nine.

Dombrowski left open the possibility of bringing Rondon up, maybe even relatively quickly. However, he said, “I don’t want to put a time frame on it.”

The decision, Dombrowski said, does not change his approach on the trade market. He said they do not have anything in the works, reliever or otherwise, to bring in anybody at this point.

“You still don’t leave any stone unturned,” Dombrowski said. “but I don’t have anything I’m on the verge of. If anything happened right now, it would be completely something that I’m not [currently] working on.

“It’s happened. that’s why I don’t want to discount it. But the way I look at it is, you keep talking to people, you keeping looking, you see what happens. I notice who’s on waiver wires. I’ve talked to different clubs. Our scouts have talked to different clubs. I mean, it would really come out of the blue. And I would think that tomorrow, when we’re heading out, I would think we’d be settled unless something totally unexpected happens.”



Awesome no closer…….I knew this would be a mistake.

no closer might inspire the boys to hit the ball with more urgency….you never know

The news really wouldn’t be that shocking, if the organization wouldn’t have built him up so much in the off-season to close. In all fairness, tough, they only stated that he’d have a chance to compete, and he did..a fair one. That also could have been for the benefit of agents like Scott Boras to try to sign a veteran closer at a cheaper price. We’ll probably see Rondon in a Tiger uniform by the All-Star break, though, unless he totally bombs in Toledo, which I don’t see happening.

Common sense prevailed. Rondon is talented but not ready right now. With five RH starters it makes sense to have three lefties. Smyly is stretched out. This is our best seven as of today. Let’s hope they all make it to MN. Remember what happened to Luis Marte last year. And with Marte, Putkonen and Rondon in Toledo we know what our options are.

JL went with no closer with the Pirates,it worked.
Last year, the Tigers ended with no closer.

You got love his K power but he only pitch 8 inning at AAA last year and didn’t do well. He didn’t perform that well in Winter ball and got worst in spring training. This was expected. Hopefuly he will be ready to go by June/July so the Tigers do not have to do a trade. I am okay with closing by committee and Benoit taking over once the weather warms.

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The one closer that was mentioned so much over the winter, Rafael Soriano, has missed time in Nationals camp with a dental abscess (ow). They basically have three closers over there when you count Clippard and Storen.

I don’t think they are interested in getting rid of any of them. Washington is a contender and the bull pen strength will help them.

No, they don’t want to get rid of any of them. They got by without Soriano last year, so now they’re stronger in the pen than before.

We are the Tigers. We win against all odds. Even if we have to create our own…..odds…….against…..

One final cut today.
To keep my record in 0 correct predictions : Worth over Santiago.
They have depth enough: Tuiasopopo, Russo ( DD wanted to trade for both last year), Kelly, Worth and Perez.. How many utilities do you need ?
Find a team were Santiago can have regular time to keep his career going. That is true loyalty

The only place Santiago will find regular time is AAA. He is a bench player at this point of his career. A good one, but not a 140 game starter.

Posted before, today more relevant:
“Bullpen committee could work again for Leyland
Tigers skipper has had success in the past without a primary closer”


bullpen by committee is going to double the cigs the skip goes through a week

Good story and Leyland was a pioneer in the bullpen by committee approach. But on the flip side, one of those seasons his committee had 15 blown saves. In one season, they doubled what Jose Valverde had in THREE regular seasons. Also, remember the Pirates never made the WS under him. His more recent playoff teams each with a solid closer have made it three times to the WS. His team that won the WS had a horse of a closer in Rob Nen.

Pingback: Tigers Set Bullpen for Opening Day…and Rondon Isn’t in It

Soriano wanted 48 MM /4 years for one good year with the Yankees. he was bad before his contract year. Plus the draft pick and the budget attached to it
Valverde ? 29 teams beside the Tigers think he lost it
Wilson? he wont be ready to begin the season. Same for Soria
Barring a trade, Rondon or the committee were the options.

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