I’ve never met Jim Leyland personally. I’m sure he’s a swell guy (perhaps Tom in Lakeland can give us a few anecdotes). For the most part, I like what he does with the team.
But I think he’s wrong about the bullpen.
Can you name a single reliever from the Tigers’ system that’s seen some kind of lasting success in a Tigers uniform? Our best relievers in recent history were FA signings (Benoit, Dotel, Valverde). Other relievers have left the Tigers and turned into ALL STARS elsewhere (Grilli, Rodney). Let’s get a discussion going on this and see who else we can come up with.
When Rondon came up yesterday, we all knew that Leyland would look to use him as soon as possible. Leyland loves to throw young guys into high pressure situations. No matter what the failure rate.
Smyly threw 14 pitches. During which he, oh, you know, struck out the side. Unless Smyly is going to start tomorrow, there was no reason to pull him. Especially after the Tigers failed to score in the 10th, because that means that we’ve not burned another pitcher after Rondon if Rondon gets through the inning (I’m certain that Rondon was only going to get 1 inning). It was a complete gaffe on Leyland’s part, and it may have cost us the game.
Now, if Rondon turns into the closer we need, and he can mature so quickly during the season that he’s a weapon in the playoffs, then let’s remember tonight’s trial by fire.
But Leyland’s track record doesn’t look good.