The Detroit Tigers have cut rookie closer Bruce Rondon, according to Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk.com. Instead, they will operate with a closer by committee.
For the Tigers, this is an anti-Mike Trout move. In 2012, the Angels just missed the post-season while seeing MVP candidate Mike Trout spend the month of April in the minors. Did this make the only difference? Of course not, and too much has been made declaring Trout's time in the minors as the sole reason the Angels missed the playoffs. But it didn't help, and it's caused a shift of opinion among many when it comes to whether or not rookies should begin the season in the majors.
The Tigers are taking the opposite approach with Rondon. They anointed him as the temporary closer at the beginning of the spring, with the caveat of seeing how he pitched in spring training. He did not pitch well, and the Tigers have decided that they will be better with him figuring things out in Triple-A rather than struggling in the majors and potentially costing them wins. If Trout had struggled in April, it wouldn't have been nearly as claring as a rookie closer struggling and directly costing a team wins it thinks it has put away.
Rondon's struggles this spring were attributed to his lack of command and his control, but his issues weren't any worse than his minor league numbers. Rondon walked seven batters in 11 2/3 innings (5.4 BB/9) which is too high, but is also on par with his career rate of 5.1. The general consensus is that when Rondon can limit the walks, he'll dominate, and the Tigers were hoping he made that adjustment this spring. He didn't, and he's in the minors.
Sometimes these decisions make themselves.
The Tigers have the pieces in place to get by with a committee for a little while. Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke are both quality late-inning relievers, and if used in the proper match-ups, can be as effective as many closers. The move weakens their middle relief, but outside of the closer's role, the Tigers bullpen is actually an area of strength.
For those wondering when they'll see Rondon again, its very simple - when he gets the walks down. Rondon is going to be in the majors at some point this season, and the Tigers hope here is that he can continue to work on his mechanical adjustments from spring training during the first month in Toledo. There's no doubt the Tigers are eyeing an early-season call-up (barring a trade for a "proven closer"), and if Rondon has success early in the season, he could be up and at the back of the Tigers major league bullpen in a month.