The Detroit Tigers have lost six of their last seven games. They were swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, lost the last two games of a series at Tampa Bay, and lost in Canada in Monday’s series-opener.
The man who was supposed to be the future of the Tigers’ bullpen, Bruce Rondon, channeled his inner-Valverde and helped cap off another collapse in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at The Trop.
While many Tigers fans are arguing that manager Jim Leyland should have left Drew Smyly in the game after he struck out the side in the ninth, it’s still troubling to see someone who was promised to be the closer’s solution, be anything but a solution.
The “emergence” of Rondon has only added another problem to a growing list of problems for Detroit (a list that Tigers fans hate to see, but love to gripe about). He joins Leyland’s questionable decisions (see above for one example), the Alex Avila (.172 Batting Average, 13 RBI, 5 HR) versus Brayan Pena (.290, 14 RBI, 4 HR) debate, and the one that probably won’t go away for a long time (the one about why the Tigers even brought Valverde back in the first place).
Rondon has had one save opportunity, and one blown save. He’s given up four earned runs over four innings, putting his ERA at 9.00, which is about 7-8 points higher than the average closer’s ERA should be.
While he is young, Tigers fans will eat him up, as they grow more impatient by the day. This is a team that has been to an ALCS (lost in 6 games) and a World Series (swept) in its last two seasons. These fans want to, and deserve to, get a closer who can actually get the job done.
The subpar bullpen has been more visible over the last 6-7 games, which has overshadowed some of the positive things that Tigers fans should be talking about. Oh, take the reigning MVP and Triple Crown winner for example. In the last six games, he’s had 5 HR, 7 RBI, and an outstanding .417 average.
And let’s not forget his 2 HR performance on Friday to help stud Max Scherzer move to 12-0. Scherzer is now 22-2 since June 28, 2012. That means that he has lost just twice since the death of his brother last June. The last time someone started this hot? Roger Clemens in 1986.
Tigers fans have the right to be upset with Rondon, and Leyland for that matter. After all, they dropped out of first place in the AL Central after Monday’s loss at Toronto. It is officially time to start asking questions.
Those questions include
Why can’t we get more than 10 games above .500?
Why is this star-filled, highly-touted team in second place?
(And perhaps most of all) Will the Tigers pick up a legit closer at this year’s trade deadline?
As the All Star Break approaches, the Tigers will need to start thinking about finding answers to these questions. In the meantime, Tigers fans can take solace in seeing Cabrera stay hot, and seeing if Scherzer can break Clemens’ record. While that will be fun, it is crucial that the rest of the team does their part to help the Tigers get back to the glory that was once felt in 1984.