In a blow to an already questionable bullpen, Jim Leyland confirmed fire-balling rookie Bruce Rondon will not be on the Tigers' roster for the first round of the MLB playoffs. Also left off the ALDS roster is veteran lefty Phil Coke. Both relievers are dealing with injuries.
Keep in mind being deactivated for the ALDS does not preclude either pitcher from being added to the 25-man roster in future playoff rounds. As to the Tigers' complete ALDS roster, it has yet to be announced by the team.
Rondon has pitched just once since September 2 due to what the Tigers have termed a "tender elbow." The big right-hander was electric in that one appearance, a dominant ten-pitch, three-strikeout eighth inning in a victory over the Twins on September 24. That performance raised hopes Rondon would be a force in the postseason, but his elbow issue returned the following day. He's been on the shelf ever since.
Obviously, Rondon was disappointed when he spoke to the media:
"I feel bad because I wanted to be able to help this team. Everybody, that’s what they dream of, going to the playoffs and the postseason, so I feel bad. But I’m just going to be ready for the next time."
Rondon struggled in his first big league go-round this season, putting up a brutal 11.57 ERA in three appearances before being sent back to Triple-A Toledo. When he returned in late June, Rondon became one of the bullpen cornerstones. Pitching in setup duty after his recall, Rondon posted 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. Overall in 2013, Rondon was 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 30 games.
Coke being left off the roster is not a surprise, injury or not. Coming off an excellent 2012 postseason, Coke was expected to be a big part of April's bullpen-by-committee experiment. By August, Coke was deep in the fan base's doghouse and being used almost strictly as a left-handed specialist by Leyland. The veteran reliever had trouble even when used in a limited role, and was ultimately demoted to Triple-A in late August to work on his command.
Recalled when rosters expanded, Coke hasn't pitched since allowing four runs in just 2/3 of an inning on September 18. He was diagnosed with left forearm inflammation not long after. Coke ended a trying regular season with an 0-5 record and a career-high 5.40 ERA.