USA TODAY Sports
Yes, we are sports fans. We like to panic. Perhaps that's what we did and even some of the Tigers' front office staff did when Bruce Rondon struggled to start the spring, but he could still be the club's Opening Day closer.
It could have been the Jose Valverde rumors. It could have been Jim Leyland's noncommittal talk. It could have been the fact that Bruce Rondon didn't look like a closer in his first few spring appearances. It could have been all of it. The fact is, we all may have jumped the gun and declaring Rondon a bust for this year. So, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports points out, we can call off the search for a new closer in Detroit. Rondon could very well still be the club's opening day closer.
So what's different? Why are things calming down in the Motor City when you bring up Rondon's name? A simple adjustment to mechanics and some extra rest may have done the trick. Rondon has looked much better of late. He still has plenty of time to work on his mechanics and get better, but if he can continue to impress like he did in his last outing, Rondon can and likely will be closing games come Opening Day.
It would seem that Rondon has his fastball all but set. However, Jim Leyland has said he wants Rondon to work on his secondary pitches throughout the rest of the spring. So prepare yourselves, baseball fans. Things could get ugly again. This isn't to say Rondon doesn't have solid secondary pitches, but it's still early in spring. If Rondon has primarily been working on his mechanics and perfecting his fastball (he has surely been working on other pitches as well), throwing in some secondary stuff and working on those pitches to perfection could result in some hiccups.
But it's spring training. Isn't that the point? Give the kid some breathing room. Let him work. If he can iron out the wrinkles and finish the spring strong, there's no reason to worry in Detroit.
The 22-year old Rondon has already proven he can be dominant in the minors. There's no logical next step for him besides work in the big leagues. He has spent five seasons in the minors and racked up 196 innings-pitched. In that time, Rondon has 65 saves and a 2.53 ERA.
He'll figure it out in the Majors. He just needs time to work.