Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/28/13
DETROIT Bruce Rondon is back, but what are the implications? The Detroit Tigers announced the recall of the pitcher they hope will be their closer of the future Friday afternoon. Detroit opens a three-game series tonight with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. How Rondon, 22, fits into the bullpen at this time will correlate directly with how well he performs. Rondon must prove worthy of late-inning assignments with the game on the line. Rondon pitched three games in one week earlier this season for Detroit, but was sent back to Toledo after running his earned run average up to 11.57 on May 1. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out one in 2 13 innings. Rondons command was lacking and his fastball, while hitting 100 mph, lacked movement. He has been dominating at Triple-A Toledo, and when his success was brought up to Tigers manager Jim Leyland a few weeks ago, he said, Hes doing good. But I want him to stay there for now. Let him keep pitching down there and improving. Rondon is 1-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 14 saves in 16 opportunities for the Mud Hens. He has struck out 40 and walked 13 in 29 23 innings. Opponents have batted only .139 against him. Rondon has posted an exceptional 0.91 WHIP for Toledo. Does his heater have enough movement and can his off-speed stuff keep major league hitters off balance? The answers to those questions will determine Rondons role and whether hes in the majors to stay. Jose Valverde, who accepted the organizations offer to pitch for Toledo on Thursday, can slip into the closers role there in an attempt to regain his pitching effectiveness. Joaquin Benoit will close in most situations for the Tigers with Al Alburquerque looking to get most setup calls. Left-hander Drew Smyly could fill either of those roles as well. Where Rondon fits is up to him. The Tigers will make a corresponding move prior to Friday nights game at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Evan Reed (2.61 ERA) and left-hander Darin Downs (4.80 ERA) could be sent to Toledo. Downs got off to a strong start, but has posted a 10.29 ERA while allowing more than two base-runners per inning in his last five outings. Downs could be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Leyland said Downs, whom he listed as unavailable for Wednesdays and Thursdays games, was experiencing stiffness and soreness. "It felt all right, a little tired maybe," Downs said. "Comes and goes. Just the aches and pains of the season.
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