Detroit Tigers: Bruce Rondon Should Be Top Setup Option
Detroit Tigers relievers Shane Greene and Justin Wilson struggled on Wednesday, surrendering four late runs to the Chicago as Detroit blew a winnable game. Bruce Rondon should be the setup man.
Detroit Tigers fans have seen bullpen meltdowns before.
Thankfully, blowing late inning leads hasn’t been commonplace this season, but it did happen on Wednesday.
Setup relievers Shane Greene and Justin Wilson were only able to record a combined out while allowing five hits, four runs and a walk.
The Tigers can’t afford to have these kinds of problems plague them down the stretch, and should look to shake things up in the bullpen—at least temporarily.
With Greene and Wilson struggling to get outs on a consistent basis, Brad Ausmus should turn to Bruce Rondon.
Long tabbed as Detroit’s closer of the future thanks to a blazing fastball and a wipeout slider, Rondon hasn’t been able to put it all together in seasons past.
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In his first two big league seasons, the 25-year-old posted a 4.68 ERA in 59.2 innings pitched. Sure, he had 66 strikeouts, but he wasn’t pitching to his potential.
Things have changed in 2016. From ERA to WHIP to strikeouts per nine innings, Rondon is posting career-best numbers in most pitching categories. What’s more, he’s been even more effective in recent outings.
Since July 26th, the reliever has allowed just two runs while striking out 20. His ERA over that span was 1.26.
Rondon’s numbers don’t just look favorably compared to his career numbers, or down the stretch. They also stack up extremely well when compared to Detroit’s other relief pitchers.
Of all Tigers relievers with at least 10 innings pitched, Rondon leads the team in a number of categories. He’s first in SIERA, with a 2.63 number.
The reliever also paces the team with 11.33 strikeouts per nine innings. The third-year reliever also leads Detroit in batting average against (1.86) and WHIP (0.93).
Rondon has figured out how to effectively mix his fastball and changeup, and it is making him extremely effective. In 39 at-bats with runners on base, the flamethrower has struck out nearly half (15) of the runners he’s faced.
So far, when pitching in the eighth inning this season, Rondon has allowed just two hits. Additionally, the reliever has struck out more batters (12) than he’s allowed base runners (seven) with runners in scoring position.
Should Greene and Wilson continue to struggle heading into the postseason, Rondon should be getting the ball late in games as part of the bridge to Francisco Rodriguez.
Right now, Rondon and Alex Wilson are the team’s best setup relievers, and Rondon’s ability to miss bats makes him a better fit in the eighth inning.
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The 25-year-old has obviously turned a corner in terms of figuring things out, and the Detroit Tigers should rely on him down the stretch.