Detroit Tigers Still Looking for Established Closer

Nicholas McCutcheonContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

Can this really be happening? Are the Tigers really going to start the 2009 season with Fernando Rodney as their closer?

Detroit has done nothing to improve its deplorable bullpen that cost them countless games in 2008 during the off-season. In fact, while it may be hard to believe, the loss of Todd Jones to retirement could mean the bullpen will be worse this year.

Rodney, who finished 0-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 2008, has been consistently inconsistent in his time with the Tigers. He has converted on only 33 of his 58 career save opportunities and has not shown any of the promise he displayed as a set-up man during the team's 2006 World Series run.

When on his game, Rodney displays a devistating change-up that rivals any in the game. However, since he has not controlled his fastball the past two seasons, hitters are sitting on that change-up and gladly taking their walks.

In 2008, Rodney issued 30 walks in 40.1 innings pitched.

Another option for the Tigers could be flame-thrower Joel Zumaya. Zumaya's electric stuff has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons. Zumaya has a habit of becoming injured in odd ways.

Whether it's wrist inflammation from playing "Guitar Hero" or from shoulder surgery from moving boxes, Zumaya has been injury-prone to say the least.

Not being willing to pay the big dollars for a free-agent closer, of which there were many, the Tigers are now forced to wait and see if a ninth inning man emerges from their ranks.