With Jose Valverde's struggles last season and in the playoffs, it quickly became clear that the Detroit Tigers would go another direction with their closer in 2013. However, it just wasn't clear what that direction would be. There were numerous high-quality closers on the free agent market, but Detroit's plan is to stick with someone internal; Bruce Rondon.
Rondon was signed out of Venezuela three years ago, but he has not thrown a pitch in the Majors. Regardless, Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski is confident the fireballer will be their closer this year. Rondon throws in excess of 100 mph, but he will need to develop more command of his pitches. According to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, Dombrowski understands the risks involved with making Rondon the closer, but he feels the benefits outweigh those risks.
The only reason the Tigers are in a situation in which they need a new closer is Jose Valverde's struggles last season. Valverde did not blow a save at all in 2011. However, in 2012 Valverde posted the second-highest ERA of his career, saved fewer games, and broke down in the postseason. Valverde openly admitted he was fatigued toward the end of the year.
Rondon, in five minor league seasons, has posted a 2.53 ERA. He has been used as a closer off and on in the minors and has 65 career saves. Rondon's biggest problem is finding the strike zone. He averages 5.1 walks per nine innings pitched. The Tigers will need him to improve on that number, but it seems as if the front office is confident in the 22-year old's ability to do so.
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