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Rondon's fastball still smokin' but something is amiss

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
James McCann talks to Bruce Rondon during Saturday night's loss.

Detroit – It's hard to know what's bothering Bruce Rondon these days.

For one, he's not comfortable speaking English, so he's not readily available to the media. For another, the coaches seem just as perplexed by his struggles.

"We were just looking at his video," manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Sunday. "He threw a couple of really good sliders. They are just hitting pitches he leaves over the middle of the plate."

Rondon, who gave up two add-on runs to the Orioles in the ninth inning Saturday, has an ERA of 10.57. He's given up 12 hits in 7.2 innings – eight hits and five runs over his last 4.1 innings.

When you throw the ball in the upper-90s and hit 100 and 101 mph, as he did Saturday, you are supposed to have some margin for error when it comes to pitch location. That doesn't seem to be the case for Rondon.

"People love the radar gun, but when you are standing in the batter's box, not all 95s are created equal," Ausmus said. "Some 95s look like 97, some 95s look like 95 and some 95s look like 92."

Why is that?

"It has to do with delivery and how quickly hitters pick the ball up," Ausmus said. "And how much life the ball has on it."

Rondon Saturday night gave up a broken-bat single on a 0-2 fastball at 99 mph to J.J. Hardy. Jonathan Schoop laced a 97-mph fastball for a double. Caleb Joseph spanked a 101-mph fastball into right-center for a two-run single.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman makes hitters look defenseless when he throws 101 mph. Hitters are getting good, confident swings at Rondon's 101 mph.

Ausmus said he doesn't believe Rondon has any mechanical defects in his delivery. The results, though, show something is amiss.

Twitter @cmccosky