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Detroit Tigers Links: Bruce Rondon as a closer & Drew Smyly as a long reliever

Drew Smyly may be destined for the long relief role we all hate, Bruce Rondon is definitely destined to be the closer we need, and Aroldis Chapman might get to be the reliever he wants to be. These stories and more in today's Morning Prowl.


With no long reliever, Tigers might give the job to Drew Smyly
The Detroit News, Lynn Henning

"Leyland's primary long-relief candidates are left-hander Kyle Lobstein, a Rule 5 draft pick who appears to have little chance at making the team; and right-hander Luke Putkonen, who has been erratic and who the Tigers would prefer to groom at Triple A Toledo."

Bruce Rondon slowly building case for Detroit Tigers' closer role after another strong outing
MLive, James Schmehl

"Rondon has walked only two batters his last five outings, including one Monday when his full-count pitch to Harper narrowly missed the inside corner. Upon second look, it appears plate umpire Paul Nauert made the wrong call."

Tigers' Andy Dirks excited for Opening Day start vs. Twins' righty -- whomever that is
Detroit Free Press, John Lowe

"Minnesota’s only left-handed starting pitcher is Scott Diamond. He hasn’t pitched in an exhibition yet, because of the elbow surgery he had in December. There’s no way he’ll be ready to pitch on Opening Day."

Does Spring Training Success Really Mean Anything?
Motor City Bengals, Matt Pelc

"It’s interesting to note that in arguably the best season in franchise history, 1984, the Tigers had the third fewest wins in Grapefruit League play. Three years later, they could only manage a baseball worst nine wins in the spring, but won nearly 100 games and clinched the franchise’s final AL East title."

What Feels Like the Easy Aroldis Chapman Solution
FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan

"Driving the Chapman-to-the-rotation bandwagon is, at its heart, curiosity. What if Chapman has the stuff to be a #1? Wouldn’t people want to know? Wouldn’t people want to try to find out? Rare is the player blessed with Chapman’s sort of arm, and aces make more history than closers."

Oakland's Japanese import is struggling. Should we be surprised?
Baseball Nation, Rob Neyer

"Generally speaking, pitchers on the east side of the Pacific throw quite a bit harder than pitchers on the west side, which might go a ways toward explaining why so many Japanese hitters have struggled over here."

The five weirdest-looking green caps worn by baseball teams on St. Patrick’s Day
Big League Stew, Mike Oz
This is one tradition that I would love to see go away.