April 25, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) walks off the field after being relieved in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Kansas City won 8-3 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nathan has the ninth inning job locked down. Who will be the eighth inning man come September?
Michael Emmerich: Someone not currently on the roster, probably an arm picked up at the deadline, further bleeding the farm system.
Matt Pelc: I wrote a month or so ago that I’m comfortable with Bruce Rondon in that role if he’s healthy. Last year I was not happy with them handing him the closers role and he didn’t even make the team out of Spring Training. Before getting injured, he showed that he could play well in pressure sitations. Still, I wouldn’t be opposed to adding an experienced set-up man or closer to take that role and free Rondon up for middle relief.
Tom Zahari: This job is Bruce Rondon’s to lose. If Rondon can stay healthy for the season and can locate his pitches, he will be one of the best 8th inning men in all of baseball. If the 8th is filled with 3 lefties, I could see Ian Krol getting some time in the 8th, but a majority of the time, I expect to see Rondon out there setting up Nathan.
Blair Tatrault: Closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon has shut-down stuff and should inherit inning number eight if healthy. It will be an added plus If Nathan actively mentors Rondon, assuming Rondon is receptive and a good student. It’s a perfect situation for Rondon to take advantage of for the next two years.
Chris Hannum: Honestly I am hoping for a more modern approach from Ausmus that would include using guys situationally rather than because it was their inning. If there has to BE an 8th inning guy, I’ll put my money on Joba (after Al Al and Rondon blow out elbows).
Grant Stoye: Well, if the pattern of acquiring a Houston closer for the stretch run is applicable this year, I’d LOVE to see Jesse Crain lock down the eighth. If not, I’m pretty happy with Rondon, as I think he can take a step this year.
Josh Paulisin: From anointed closer, to Wild Thing Part II, and to Toledo and back again, Bruce Rondon will finally cement himself as the Tigers’ guy in the eighth. In 12 2/3 innings last August and September, Rondon saw his ERA drop from a hefty 5.06 to a respectable 3.45. He also managed to rack up 18 strikeouts during that time. Now that the pressure to close is off his shoulders, I can see Rondon repeating these late season numbers for a full season.
Matt Snyder: Whoever it is, I’m hoping they earn the spot by playing well and not by watching everyone else fail. It’s very hard to say, but I’ll go with Joba Chamberlain because I suspect Bruce Rondon will be the more popular choice.
Sam O’Toole: I think Bruce Rondon will be the set up man by the end of the season. After his up-and-down
season in 2013, I see him taking that next step. Since the competition for that job seems to be wide open, Rondon can step right in. He was excellent in the minors and still finished with a 3.41 ERA in 30 games with the Tigers. Rondon threw mostly fastballs last season (77.8%), so he will need to mix in a secondary pitch to get opponents out in the eighth. Alburquerque hasn’t put together a good season in the bullpen since 2011 due to injuries and poor play. The other two options would have to be either Coke or Chamberlain and, by September, I think Rondon will have that role ahead of those two.