Fernando Rodney, 'Opening Day Closer'

As if the reputation of Detroit hadn't taken enough hits over the last couple of years, we now shift your attention to the mess known as the Tigers bullpen. Buckle up, friends, this could get bumpy.

Detroit opens its season in Toronto next Monday against Doc Halladay and the Jays. This has "Toronto, 6-2" written all over it, but nonetheless Jim Leyland let it be known today that if the Tigers face a save situation on opening day, Fernando Rodney will get the ball.

"I think Fernando Rodney is in the best shape he's been in since I've been here," Leyland told the Detroit Free Press, apparently with a straight face (check the calendar). "I think he's throwing the ball extremely well. He's healthy. I think he'll have a good year. His control's better."

Rappin Rodney's spring line doesn't back up Leyland's optimism: 9 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 7.00 ERA. Brandon Lyon has struggled as well: 11 IP, 18 H, 7 ER, 5 HR, 3 BB, 6 K, 5.73 ERA. Those are some crooked numbers.

Leyland also made it clear that he wasn't giving Rodney the job permanently; you get the idea we'll see plenty of fluctuation in this chair during the season. That means Joel Zumaya might be in the mix when he gets over his shoulder injury (he's already on the DL), and keep an eye on first-round pick Ryan Perry, one of the few Detroit pitchers who's pitched well this spring (10.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 11 K). Perry and SP Rick Porcello have already made Detroit's opening-day roster, for what it's worth.

Feel free to pine for Willie Hernandez in the comments. We'll get through this together.


Image via Associated Press