Fernando Rodney had a rough start to the season, virtually from Opening Day. In the Rays second game of the year, Rodney came in, blew the save, but still picked up the win as the Rays rallied. From that point until May 25th, Rodney’s season had not gone much better, as he was only 9-14 in save opportunities, with a 6.05 ERA. His performance was even more abysmal than his career until 2012, when he broke through in record setting fashion.
Despite calls for Joe Maddon to remove Rodney from the closer’s role and replacing him with practically anything else, Maddon stuck by his closer. That faith has certainly paid dividends for the Rays, as since May 25th, Rodney has put together a run where he has locked down fifteen consecutive saves, posting an ERA of 2.35. While those numbers still are not close to what Rodney had produced last year, they are certainly in line with what should be expected from an elite closer.
While 2013 may be a tale of two seasons for Rodney thus far, he has once again been shaky since the All-Star Break. On Saturday, he allowed an unearned run on his own error with runners on first and third to allow the Blue Jays to pull within one before notching the save. Yesterday, Rodney gave up a two run double, and had runners on second and third before getting the final out to preserve the Rays victory. He was victimized by his defense again, as Evan Longoria made an error, but he has not looked the same as he did prior to the break.
Are these outings a sign that Rodney is beginning to revert back to his performance earlier in the year? Or is it just rust that has accumulated from having not pitched in a week? Looking at the last two games, Rodney has walked three batters over the past two innings, after having walked only six in his previous 21 innings pitched.
Even though Rodney has struggled since the Rays returned from the break, and struggled at the start of the season, it is likely not yet time to push the panic button. With the trade deadline fast approaching, closer is likely to be far down the list of priorities for the Rays front office. However, if Rodney continues to struggle, finding someone else to close games if needed may begin rising up the list.
Fernando Rodney had turned his season around after a rough eight weeks to start the year. Time will tell if his recent outings are just a blip on the radar, or a reversion back to the start of the season.