Bruce Rondon’s early struggles this spring led to reports that the Tigers were trying to acquire a closer, but the rookie fireballer has bounced back quite nicely of late.
Rondon allowed three runs on five hits and five walks over his first 3 2/3 innings during Grapefruit League action, but after taking a few days off to work on his mechanics, the 22-year-old right-hander has five straight scoreless appearances to go along with a 9/2 K/BB ratio and two hits allowed over five innings. This includes three consecutive hitless appearances.
Rondon had perhaps his biggest test this afternoon when he faced the heart of the Nationals’ lineup. After getting Jayson Werth to ground out, he ran the count full against Bryce Harper before walking him with a fastball off the plate. However, he bounced back by striking out Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche swinging to end the scoreless frame.
Rondon posted a 1.53 ERA and 66/26 K/BB ratio over 53 innings last season between High-A Lakeland, Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo. The 22-year-old right-hander probably still has a lot to prove in order to gain Jim Leyland’s trust in the ninth inning, but he’s at least making a strong push for a bullpen spot.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.