Enough was enough. After a pair of blown saves from Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus announced that Justin Wilson would take over the team’s closer role. Rodriguez “handled the news like a pro,” according to MLive’s Evan Woodberry, but his new role in the Tigers bullpen is yet unclear.
Wilson earned his new role with a near-flawless month of April. He pitched 11 scoreless, hitless outings to start the season before allowing a pair of runs on two hits against the Chicago White Sox on April 29. Through 13 2⁄3 innings this season, Wilson has only allowed those two runs, good enough for a 1.32 ERA. He has struck out 22 of the 50 batters he has faced, with just four walks allowed.
With Justin Wilson ascending to the closer role, the rest of the Tigers bullpen remains in flux. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reported that Alex Wilson will slide into a setup role, and recent bullpen usage suggests Shane Greene and Blaine Hardy continue to fill gaps behind the Wilsons. Rodriguez may work some low leverage situations in the near future, but the Tigers will need him or Anibal Sanchez to contribute meaningful innings at some point.
With both Rodriguez and Sanchez currently in Ausmus’ doghouse, the Tigers need to find a fifth reliever to help take some strain off the “Big Four” of Wilson, Wilson, Greene, and Hardy. Lefthander Chad Bell is the only other reliever on the 25-man roster, but he has yet to appear in a game after being called up over a week ago. Rookie Joe Jimenez was placed on the disabled list in the minor leagues on Tuesday, and the other options currently sitting at Triple-A Toledo — including 2016 key contributors Bruce Rondon and Kyle Ryan — have not impressed thus far.