Bruce Rondon was brilliant is his September 24 outing — after sitting out 20+ days with a sore elbow — striking out all three Minnesota Twins batters he faced while throwing gas and featuring a devastating slider. But his elbow discomfort returned following that performance and now it’s being reported that he won’t be ready to go in the ALDS at all.
“It was difficult because I thought I was going to feel good after that,” Rondon said. “It was a great outing, but I felt the discomfort again and it was very disappointing.”
The Tigers would have loved Rondon’s high-strikeout arm in the bullpen that gets shaky quickly after the top few guys, but they’re going to have to press on without him. He would have fit in nicely as another matchup arm in, say, the seventh inning, but perhaps his absence will provide a real opportunity to Rick Porcello to step into some high leverage duty.
No Rondon means that Al Alburquerque is now a lock (if he wasn’t already) and probably also means that Luke Putkonen finds his way onto the roster. It’s possible that Rondon could return should the Tigers advance to the ALCS.
In less disappointing news, Phil Coke has also been declared out for the ALDS. Coke reported some arm discomfort of his own late in the year, but his roster spot was probably already in grave jeopardy due to general ineffectiveness throughout the season. Darin Downs and Jose Alvarez (both lefties) appear to be the top candidates to make the roster. Alvarez is really an innings-eating option only (something you don’t need or want to need in the playoffs), and Downs is more of a pure LOOGY. I’d take Downs.
I’m guessing the seven in the bullpen will be: