Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, who has stated publicly that he will not re-sign closer Jose Valverde, has indicated that prospect Bruce Rondon could take over the club's ninth-inning duties. Rondon, who will be 22 at the start of the 2013 campaign, has pitched only eight innings above Double-A.
Valverde was unable to replicate the results of his strong 2011 campaign; in 2012, he posted a 3.57 FIP and saw his strikeout rate fall from 8.6 K/9 to 6.3. His struggles were compounded during the postseason, during which he allowed nine runs on 11 hits in just 2⅔ innings across the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.
Rondon had a breakout 2012 campaign, rocketing from High-A to Triple-A while compiling 1.53 ERA across 52 games. The 6'2, 190-pound right-hander has pitched a combined 29⅔ innings between Double-A and Triple-A, but he has several traits ideal for closing, including a high strikeout rate (11.2 K/9). His ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio is a strong 1.57, but the Tigers are not a team built on strong infield defense.