Rondon recalled to Detroit, leaving Mud Hens closer role for Valverde
DETROIT — Now we know who will close in Toledo, and it won’t be Bruce Rondon.
The day after the Tigers’ former closer accepted an exile to Triple-A to work on his delivery issues in the minors, they decided their future closer had worked on enough of his own issues.
Rondon, tabbed as the closer of the future for the Tigers, was recalled from Triple-A Toledo Friday afternoon, ostensibly leaving the closing duties for the Mud Hens in the hands of Jose Valverde. Evan Reed was optioned to Toledo to make room.
Rondon got the chance to make the team as the closer in spring training, but was deemed not ready. He later had a cup of coffee with the big-league squad, appearing in three games between April 25 and May 1, but was again deemed not ready.
Now, he’s back.
“Rondon has thrown the ball very well for us. He has thrown it very well. He continues to improve. He continues to work on some of the things that he needs to work on, his breaking stuff, spotting, command of his fastball, his quickness to the plate,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. “Some people think he’s ready to come here and pitch right now in the organization, and do a good job for us.”
Rondon has a 1.52 ERA and 14 saves for the Mud Hens, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 50/13, allowing opponents to hit just .139 against him.
There were several things that Rondon needed to work on when he went back down, but some of those issues have been worked out, apparently. He will pitch the sixth and seventh innings, manager Jim Leyland told reporters Friday, and possibly the eighth, but is not in Detroit to close games.
“He continues to work on some of the things that he needs to work on, his breaking stuff, spotting, command of his fastball, his quickness to the plate,” Dombrowski said. “We’ll see how this goes. It wouldn’t surprise me sometime this year to see that he’s ready to help us, and he really has grown by leaps and bounds. We think very highly of him.”
It also saves the Tigers the conundrum of figuring out who gets the closing assignments at Toledo, Rondon or the guy they just sent down. Valverde, the team’s former closer, accepted an assignment to Toledo on Thursday, a week after he’d been designated for assignment, and cleared waivers.
Valverde was given the chance to go down to the minors to work in a lower-stress environment, with the admission that pitching innings without the pressure of closing out games was not really a productive situation for the longtime closer.
“We haven’t gotten to that point,” Dombrowski said of that dilemma last week.
Now they have, and here is the answer.