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Al Alburquerque provides depth to the bullpen.
Heading into spring camp this year, all eyes have been on potential closer Bruce Rondon.  With the departure of Jose Valverde, Rondon has become the leading candidate to break camp as the Tigers closer.  He has drawn the most attention.

Yet, the Tigers have another righthander in the bullpen that has impressive potential, and he's already done it at the big league level.  He may be just as critical to the Tigers chances as any other member of the bullpen.

In 2011, Al Alburquerque burst on to the major league scene and dominated the competition.  In 41 big league games, he posted a 1.87 ERA and 67 strikeouts.  Then, a freak concussion injury during batting practice in August threw up a roadblock for the remainder of the season.

A healthy Alburquerque might have made a big difference in the 2011 post season as the Tigers fell to the Rangers in the ALCS.

Elbow surgery then derailed his 2012 season, limiting him to just 13 innings.  Again, Alburquerque dominated with 18 strikeouts and allowed only six hits when he returned. 
 
Keeping Alburquerque healthy may be one of the underlying keys to a prosperous 2013 for the Tigers.  So, while Rondon's ability to make the leap as big league closer is vital to the Tigers chances, Alburquerque's potential provides another option if Rondon falters. 

Alburquerque's ability to shut down an inning was impressive when healthy in 2011.  His K/9IP ratio was nearly 14/9ip, third best in baseball that season. 

While we have one eye on Rondon's progress this March, keep the other eye on Al Al's spring.  It just might be as important.

 


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