Ausmus hopes to see strides from Rondon

Ausmus hopes to see strides from Rondon

DETROIT -- The Tigers have all but been eliminated from playoff contention, and manager Brad Ausmus is using the remaining weeks of the season to help the club plan for 2016.

The one player who has the most left to prove, Ausmus said, is Bruce Rondon, the organization's potential closer of the future who has struggled mightily this year.

Following a promising rookie campaign, Rondon missed 2014 and the first half of '15 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has posted a 6.00 ERA over 34 appearances -- including four blown saves in nine opportunities -- since returning to the Majors in late June.

"We need to see outs -- strikes and outs on a consistent basis," Ausmus said. "That doesn't just apply to him. It applies to everybody. But he's got tremendous ability."

Rondon has an overpowering fastball that reaches triple digits, and he pairs that with a slider and changeup that can leave opposing batters swinging at air. But he has had difficulties finding the strike zone this season; he's issuing 5.7 walks per nine innings, the second-highest rate on the team behind only Drew VerHagen.

"He's trying to do the right thing," Ausmus said of Rondon. "He's still young and learning."

Regardless of his performance over the final 13 games of the regular season, Rondon will almost certainly compete for a role in the back end of the Tigers' bullpen next spring. But stringing together some solid outings could go a long way in showing the organization that he could become an everyday closer.

Worth noting

• Left-hander Daniel Norris will be limited to about 65 pitches during Tuesday's start, which will be his second appearance since coming off the disabled list (right oblique strain).

• Righty Buck Farmer (right forearm tightness) tossed bullpen sessions Friday and Sunday without incident. He's available in relief, and his ability to work several innings could prove crucial for the Tigers during what has been a taxing stretch for the 'pen.

Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.