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Modest Proposal
April 01, 2013
Perhaps the biggest story out of Lakeland this spring was whether rookie Bruce Rondon is ready to take the Tigers' closer job. It was a fun camp story line, but rather than get heavily invested in a single pitcher in a single role, manager Jim Leyland should dip into his past and turn the lack of a designated closer into an advantage. He can use Rondon (11.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors last year) and Al Alburquerque (13.5 K/9 in two big league seasons) when a strikeout is needed. He can go to Joaquin Benoit in parks that hold fly balls, and Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke to match up against righties and lefties, respectively. It's a radical idea that once upon a time helped Leyland win three division titles: The 1990--92 Pirates averaged seven pitchers a year who had at least one save and had no pitcher who had 20 in a season. Leyland has gravitated to a closer-centric bullpen since then. But the skipper has the experience and the political capital to move away from that model now that he has the personnel for something different—and better.
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April 01, 2013

Modest Proposal

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Perhaps the biggest story out of Lakeland this spring was whether rookie Bruce Rondon is ready to take the Tigers' closer job. It was a fun camp story line, but rather than get heavily invested in a single pitcher in a single role, manager Jim Leyland should dip into his past and turn the lack of a designated closer into an advantage. He can use Rondon (11.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors last year) and Al Alburquerque (13.5 K/9 in two big league seasons) when a strikeout is needed. He can go to Joaquin Benoit in parks that hold fly balls, and Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke to match up against righties and lefties, respectively. It's a radical idea that once upon a time helped Leyland win three division titles: The 1990--92 Pirates averaged seven pitchers a year who had at least one save and had no pitcher who had 20 in a season. Leyland has gravitated to a closer-centric bullpen since then. But the skipper has the experience and the political capital to move away from that model now that he has the personnel for something different—and better.

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