Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
Jose Valverde will not return, making way for Bruce Rondon to take over the Tigers' closer spot.
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.