Jon Paul Morosi, of the Detroit Free Press, reports the Detroit Tigers have named relief pitcher Fernando Rodney their closer heading into the regular season. However, manager Jim Leyland emphasized that Rodney is not the full-time closer. "Does that mean he's going to come in every time? I don't know that," Leyland said. "I wouldn't make a big deal that I named Fernando Rodney the closer, because I really haven't. But he's going to close that first game, hopefully."
The move comes as a bit of a surprise because relief pitcher Brandon Lyon was expected to be named the team's closer for the 2009 season. However, Lyon has not impressed during Spring Training, posting an ERA of 5.73 with five home runs surrendered in 11 innings.
However, Rodney has not been very impressive himself this spring. He has a 7.00 ERA with a 1.78 WHIP and seven strikeouts in nine innings. Rodney does have experience closing out games for the team as he recorded 13 saves a season ago.
Leyland mentioned that Lyon and relief pitchers Ryan Perry and Joel Zumaya (shoulder) will also see some save opportunities this season. If Rodney falters in the early going it would not be surprising to see one of these candidates step in as the primary closer or Leyland implement a mixture.
The bottom line here is that the Tigers' closer situation is not pretty. Leyland has expressed the most confidence toward Rodney, but that could change quickly.
For fantasy purposes, Rodney now becomes the better option for saves at the moment. However, Lyon and Perry are waiting in the wings and could end up being more valuable at some point during the 2009 season; Perry can be taken in AL-only leagues on speculation since the young fireballer has made the roster. Zumaya will begin the season on the disabled list, but keep an eye on him.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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