Remember how excited you were about the idea of Bruce Rondon throwing 179 mph while saving dozens of games for your fantasy team? Not so fast - the Tigers have sent the strike-challenged Rondon to Triple A and will open the season with a closer committee.
Who should you bet on in the Tigers' bullpen? That's a tough one, as the extensive list of candidates includes Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque, Octavio Dotel and maybe even flamethrowing Brayan Villarreal. The Tigers' website suggests that Coke, Benoit and Dotel "would be most likely to get the bulk of the save opportunities." That doesn't narrow things down too much, does it?
Coke can't get righties out, and manager Jim Leyland said during the offseason that Benoit doesn't bounce back well enough to throw back-to-back days. Dotel and his recently improved control are interesting, and he's terrific against righties, but not so good against lefties. If I was a betting man - and I am - I'd make a conservative bet on Coke for the short term, since he owns one side of a platoon, and try to take a flier on Alburquerque, who probably has the most lights-out stuff of the bunch at this point. Coke figures as the most likely Tiger to save 10 games, but Alburquerque is a better bet to pay off big. Leyland has said that he likes the idea of a set closer, so he might be itching to pick one. I have Coke ranked at 286 overall, Alburquerque at 292, and Benoit at 293. Reaching high for any of these guys comes with a high likelihood of disappointment.
As for Rondon, he probably won't help anyone in 2013, but should be a closer not too far down the road. If your league allows for farm picks, he's a good one.