Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, on a “personal guess”, thinks Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is “scared stiff” about relying on Bruce Rondon in the closer’s role:
A personal guess is Leyland is scared stiff his kid closer isn’t ready. Minus an Opening Day closer he can trust, the Tigers could be in early trouble. In that dark scenario, Dombrowski will either be obliged to trade for a stand-in fireman, or borrow from the stable of seventh- and eighth-inning relievers in a community effort to finish games the Tigers should, on many days, be leading when that ninth arrives.
It’s going to be a white-knuckle month, however this issue plays out.
Rondon, just 22 years old, struck out 66 and unintentionally walked 24 last year with a 1.53 ERA in 53 innings of work between Single-A Erie, Double-A Erie, and Triple-A Toledo. Dombrowski joins an ever-growing list of general managers to toss out older baseball orthodoxy — relying on veterans with experience — to maximize value out of younger, cheaper players who are just as capable. 2012 saw only six players age 29 or younger post 30 or more saves, but it was down from a whopping 12 the year prior, the highest total of the 2000’s.
Should the Tigers feel Rondon isn’t a fit for the role yet, they can hand the ninth inning to Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke, or Octavio Dotel.