Stop the Madness – Take Fernando Rodney Out of the Closer’s Role

By David Hill

Albert Einstein once described insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Merriam-Webster dictionary, in one of their several definitions of insanity, defines the word as ‘extreme folly or unreasonableness.’ As of this point, Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays may be considered to exhibit signs of insanity by their continual insistence to put Fernando Rodney on the mound for saves.

Quite simply, he has given the Rays virtually no reason to expect a different result than what he has done most of the season – put people on base. He has walked 18 batters in 19.1 innings this year, and has blown consecutive saves, as he is now only 9-14 in save situations. After his most recent meltdown against the Yankees last night, Rodney has an ERA of 6.05. That number is unacceptable for the long reliever, never mind someone who is counted on to slam the door on close games.

Yes, Rodney saved the Rays last season when Kyle Farnsworth was injured and Joel Peralta imploded to start the year. However, Rodney is in the midst of the same type of implosion that Peralta had at the time. His ERA and WHiP are the worst of any reliever with five or more saves, and he has walked more batters and blown more saves than any other reliever in baseball this season. The closer who is closest to Rodney is Brandon League, and no one is exactly claiming that he should remain in his role.

Absolutely nothing about his track record screams out that Rodney is just in the midst of a bad run. In fact, when one looks at his track record, one year truly stands out – last year. A full decade of similar results should not be considered irrelevant just because of one improbable year. We can talk about mechanical and mental issues all we want, but Rodney should not be working through these as the Rays closer.

At this time, expecting Fernando Rodney to come through in a save situation is essentially the definition of insanity. Maybe he gets himself on track at some point and can be a solid closer for the Rays, but that time is not now. The Rays need to remove him from the closer role and let him get everything figured out – to continue to do so while expecting him to nail down the save is simply folly.