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March 3, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) reacts after he gave up a solo home run to Atlanta Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky (1) at ESPN Disney Wide World of Sports complex, Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Rondon Is Who We Thought He Was

Expectations were exceedingly high and everyone – even nationally – was interested in what the hard-throwing pitcher would do with the big spotlight on him. The excitement, however, quickly turned to grief when the results didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.

Batter 1 Groundout
Batter 2 Groundout
Batter 3 Home Run
Batter 4 Strikeout
Batter 5 Strikeout
Batter 6 Flyout
Batter 7 Groundout
Batter 8 Lineout
Batter 9 Strikeout
Batter 10 Double
Batter 11 Single
Batter 12 Home Run
Batter 13 Single
Batter 14 Groundout
Batter 15 Walk
Batter 16 Strikeout
Batter 17 Groundout
Batter 18 Single
Batter 19 Groundout

The strikeout numbers where right where we expected them to be, but we didn’t expect to him get hit around so hard so soon. After these four innings of work, the numbers looked like this:

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

11.25

1.75

9.0

2.3

4.50

Yikes. Those numbers aren’t pretty but we know that they don’t represent the true ability of the pitcher in question. He had looked bad in this particular sequence of events, sure, but we have to understand that there’s an entire body of work that he’s built up that needs to be considered as well. We know way more about the pitcher because of what he did in the seasons and innings prior to this sequence of events than anything we might have learned – or thought we learned – during this sequence of events.

But I want to shift this discussion away from Justin Verlander’s numbers in the World Series last year and toward Bruce Rondon’s spring training performance to date.

What have we learned about Rondon this spring? Pretty much nothing. We already knew he threw hard, we already knew he got lots of strikeouts, and we already knew he was prone to wildness and allowing lots of walks. Nothing from his stat line should have caused us the slightest bit of surprise.

His back-to-back poor outings caused many to write him off as being unable to handle a major league job right now. That may or may not be the case, but I don’t think we’ve seen any sort of definitive proof. Rondon hasn’t shown anything that didn’t show last year or the year before or the year before in the minor leagues.

Rondon’s spring line:

ERA

WHIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

5.79

2.57

15.4

9.64

1.93

isn’t very good, but the specific numbers themselves don’t mean anything. Numbers from 4.2 innings of work aren’t going to look like season averages, and what we see here is lots of strikeouts and lots of walks. There’s nothing new here; he is who we thought he was.

We obviously would want to see the ERA lower if he was closing for the big club all season long, but he’s “only” allowed three earned runs in five outings (three scoreless, one one-run, and one two-run outing) and there’s a decent chance that he “would have ended up with” four saves for those efforts (speaking generally, of course).

I’m not saying that Rondon will or even should get a spot on the major league team, but we don’t need to ride the emotional roller coaster every time he goes out there this spring. Let’s just sit back and watch the young man pitch.

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Tags: Bruce Rondon Detroit Tigers Spring Training

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