The Tigers bullpen has been one of unpredictability. As the 2017 season closes in, one thing is certain – there are many men vying for a spot in the pen.
A few pitchers are sure to be shoe-ins for the squad: Francisco Rodriguez, Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Justin Wilson, and Bruce Rondon. Of these pitchers, the one who has to be feeling the most stress is Bruce Rondon.
Rondon has been a controversial player who has received chance after chance to succeed. In 2015, it seemed like he might not see his way back to Detroit. But, in 2016, he was one of the most reliable relief pitchers in the pen. Now, the pressure is on.
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The team and the front office know what he can do. It is clear that he is the heir-apparent to Francisco Rodriguez’s position as the closer. But, can he do it. With K-Rod expected to be used as trade bait at the deadline, Rondon’s role could begin as soon as July. He finished the 2016 season with an impressive 2.97 ERA and an even more impressive 0.963 WHIP. Can he do it again? And even better?
If the Aroldis Chapman contract is any sign, teams will pay big for a solid closer. Despite his average fastball velocity dropping over the past three years, he is still averaging 97 MPH. And, he does hit speeds of 100 MPH when he wants to.
At 25 years of age, Rondon has his whole career ahead of him and that career could pay off big. The pressure is on.