Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Thus far, contrary to what Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski might say, the Bruce Rondon experiment at closer hasn’t gone as well as expected. In fact, the gamble has looked like a complete and unnecessary debacle, capable of doing more harm than intended in several ways if it should continue. Early in spring training, Rondon, the young fireball pitcher who was given the keys to the ninth inning for team expected to contend for a World Series title, has been beyond erratic. Walks have been the major problem, and when Rondon has managed to find home plate, hitters have quickly tattooed his pitches. That’s all despite his powerful fastball and wicked change up, which apparently need just a bit more fine tuning. This spring, it’s looking like a major case of too much too soon for an extremely talented rookie with plenty to learn. The Tigers don’t have to rush Rondon at all considering his age (25) and experience level (only nine games at the Triple A level). Sometimes, teams have to push their young talent because of roster necessity. In Detroit, that’s not the case right now, nor has it ever been lately. That’s why I’ve argued since day one this offseason that the team has long needed some type of insurance policy. After Jose Valverde exited stage left, Detroit’s brass went all in on Rondon, perhaps trying to fill him with some spring confidence. It hasn’t worked. Now, rumors say the Tigers could finally be coming around to the idea of adding a veteran closer, despite Dombrowski and Leyland’s constant public dismissals. Be it for Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs, Andrew Bailey of the Boston Red Sox or a combination of players the Washington Nationals feature in Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard (all of which were alluded to by Danny Knobler) the team had better make a move and embrace it. If not, things will get ugly in Detroit’s often wicked court of public opinion for Rondon if he struggles, and subsequently, Leyland and Dombrowski as well. Todd Jones, Fernando Rodney and Valverde were raked over the coals in the city for their various problems, regardless if they were at complete fault. A rookie simply shouldn’t be given the depth of that heat and pressure so early in his career if it doesn’t have to happen. If Rondon is thrust into the role and fails during the season, his career could be prematurely ruined and his growth severely stunted if not damaged. Consider what happened to Franklin German, another giant relief pitcher with a live arm the Tigers tried to bring along too quickly. Circumstance dictated the team had to rush him in 2002, German quickly struggled in his role and was never the same from that point on, quickly flaming out in baseball. He never had any help to aid in his development nor time to find himself, and confidence is the most important thing a reliever can possess. With someone capable to bridge the gap, the team can continue to season Rondon for the position and let him find his way. This spring should simply be the “trial by fire” stage of his development. Rondon shouldn’t be replaced at all; instead, the team should ready him for the demands of the hardest position in baseball. Rookie closers typically don’t fare so well. Why risk ruining his confidence so soon? This move shouldn’t come from within, either. In all their other roles, the Tigers’ late inning pitchers have continuity. Breaking that up would only unnecessarily shake things up for a group who excelled in their roles last year. Thus, watch for some type of outside move in the coming days. Despite their many assertions otherwise, Dombrowski and Leyland likely know the stakes are too high for their Tigers to let a rookie continue to struggle through in the late innings. That’s also quite true for Rondon himself, who’s facing a critical period within his personal development as a pitcher. Right now, he still looks like a thrower. As Knobler admitted, finding such a deal at this point in time won’t be easy. Despite this, it makes a potential spring trade for a closer no less vital for the Tigers, especially if they value Rondon as a player. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavs beat Hawks without Kyrie Irving, take 2-0 lead

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Minor League team cancels 'A-Rod Juice Box Night'

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.