Bruce Rondon's call-up to the major leagues has been largely overshadowed by Jose Valverde's return to the Tigers, but the 22 year old made an impact in his major league debut today. Unfortunately, a blown save isn't the kind of impact that Rondon and Tigers fans wanted or expected. However, there are some good things to take away from his debut as well.
One thing that got lost in the rubble following the bullpen's implosion is that Rondon's command looked as good as we have seen so far in 2013. He didn't allow a walk and executed his pitches pretty well.
Here, he throws an inside fastball to Billy Butler on a 2-0 count that Butler is able to fight off into right field for a single.
This is Billy Butler being Billy Butler, killer of all things Tigers. It's hard to fault Rondon here.
Next, Rondon blows a 99 mile per hour fastball by Eric Hosmer, then jams him with a well-located slider in an 0-2 count.
This is the type of command that Rondon was lacking during Spring Training, and it bodes well for future outings in Detroit. If he is able to hold Dyson on first (more on that below), this is a double play ball.
After Hosmer's groundout, Rondon had a runner on third (Dyson) with one out. He throws a pair of 100 mile per hour fastballs that Lorenzo Cain is late on, but is able to foul off.
On the 0-2 pitch, Rondon throws a slider that Cain lines into center field for a sacrifice fly.
In this situation, Rondon needed a strikeout. It doesn't make sense for Rondon to throw a breaking ball after Cain was so late on the fastball. Part of this is on Alex Avila, who dictated what pitches Rondon threw today.
Rondon, like nearly every Tigers reliever, had a lot of trouble holding runners on base. Pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson didn't waste much time, swiping second base on Rondon's second pitch to Eric Hosmer.
The big issue here is Rondon's timing. He takes a look at Dyson, then goes into his cumbersome motion. Dyson gets a great jump and steals second without any trouble.
Later in the inning, Mike Moustakas swiped third base without a throw on Rondon for his first steal of the year.
Rondon is definitely part of the problem here, but the rest of the Tigers infield is also to blame. Prior to the pitch, Moustakas looks around and takes off with Rondon's first movement. Either Omar Infante or Jhonny Peralta needed to make a better effort to hold Moustakas on in this situation, and Rondon needs to do a better job of checking on the runner.
Rondon's debut didn't go as well as we would have hoped, but I think there are enough positive signs -- especially compared to his work during Spring Training -- to be comfortable with him coming out of the Tigers bullpen in future outings.