By: Jamie Samuelsen

A week ago, it looked like the Tigers were recalling their closer from the minor leagues. It turns out that they were. It just didn’t turn out to be rookie Bruce Rondon.

Rondon was recalled from Toledo on the same day that the Tigers brought Jose Valverde up from Lakeland and signed him to a Major League contract. Valverde closed out last Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Royals and has been perfect in three appearances with the Tigers.

Rondon hasn’t been quite so good. Today was the final nail as he retired just one batter and allowed two hits and two walks in the Tigers 6-2 loss to the Twins. After the game, manager Jim Leyland announced that Rondon was heading back to Toledo in favor of right hander Luke Putkonen. Leyland blamed himself a bit saying that Rondon needed more work and needed to close games. But let’s be honest. If Rondon had been better, he’d stay in Detroit.

In the last week, Rondon pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed five hits, two walks and three earned runs. This was in stark contrast to his brief time in Toledo when he was electric, not allowing a run in 7 2/3rds innings of work.

Leyland insisted that Rondon remains the closer of the future for the Tigers. But now that Valverde appears to be the closer of the past and the present, the future can be put off for a little while. That said, if the injuries to players like Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel continue and the ineffectiveness of Brayan Villarreal continues, Leyland might need Rondon sooner than later.

No real harm. The Tigers closed out a five-game winning streak with a loss today, and are atop the AL Central. But the Rondon demotion is another indicator that the bullpen will be a story and perhaps a problem for this team throughout this 2013 season.


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