We here at X-Rays Spex headquarters are not afraid to call things as we see them. In fact, calling people out on their collective stuff (expletive deleted) is one of our tenets. That Fernando Rodney has blown his fifth save of the year — in the Rays third loss when they were a strike away from victory — is a huge, heaping, load of horse-pucky. The Tampa Bay Rays are again sitting at .500 following a heart breaking 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees Saturday night. And with the loss went any hope of making up any ground against their AL East rivals… at least this time around.
Any culpability for the loss should not be placed on Matt Moore who, in a fair and just world, should be sitting pretty with his ninth win of the season. Moore posted another quality six inning start, giving up only one run on five hits and two walks. Moore made the proper adjustments, pitching to contact when he wasn’t blowing away the fastball hungry Yankees. With faith in the fielders behind him, Moore did not shy away from letting the Yankees put the bat on the ball, executing his pitches to great effect.
Nor should any blame be placed on Jake McGee or Joel Peralta’s shoulders; they did their jobs in the seventh and eight innings, combining for two innings of one hit, one walk, four strikeout baseball. What I like about Jake McGee — which is vastly different from Rays defacto closer Fernando Rodney — is that he’s largely cleaned up his act, stringing together seven consecutive scoreless innings. Granted he’s not getting in and out of innings with the efficiency of the previous season (he’s averaging 16 pitches per inning vs 13 in 2012), the results speak for themselves — McGee’s relented only one hit in those seven innings, while striking out seven.
No, the loss sits squarely with Fernando Rodney. To be fair, Josh Lueke did gave up the fourth run of the day. However had Rodney done his job, Lueke never would have been in the game in the first place. In 19-1/3 innings of work, Fernando Rodney has now allowed 16 hits, 13 earned runs, and 18 walks — all the while accruing an ERA of 6.05. These numbers, combined with five blown saves, does not a quality closer make. Blame it on his mechanics, or blame it on the fact that he’s missing his location — one undoubtedly has an effect on the other. One thing is certain: magically wipe those blown saves off the record, and the Rays are sitting five games over .500.
Joe Maddon made mention in his post game presser,
“This has been awkward to watch…as long as Rodney does not lose confidence in himself, I will not lose confidence in him.”
He went on to say that Fernando has been,
“One pitch away from being pretty darn good.”
I’d argue that the difference between a closer like Mariano Rivera or Jim Johnson, is their uncanny ability to execute that one pitch, making them — in Joe Maddon’s words — pretty darn good. I’d also argue that Rodney was more than one pitch away from being pretty darn good Saturday, after all his 1 IP/2 H/2 R/2 ER/1 BB/1 K line speaks for itself.
Though Joe Maddon has publicly defended the much maligned Rodney, Tribune sports columnist Roger Mooney asserts,
“Maddon is always going to defend his players publicly. If he does demote Rodney, probably will just happen without an announcement.”
The question begs: If the removal of Rodney from the closer role is imminent, who then takes his place? Has McGee — who’s been groomed for the role — stabilized enough to be bumped up to ninth inning? Do you move Joel Peralta into the closer role since he’s shown that he’s more than capable of dealing with heavy lifting? Do you return to the closer by committee policy? Whatever the case, Rodney is not getting any better. Rather, the opposite is true.
The New What Next
The Rays will attempt to wrangle a win away from Grimmace and the Yankees with Alex Cobb on the mound Sunday, in what promises to be a fun game. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 5/26/13 Starting Lineup
1. Desmond Jennings CF
2. Ryan Roberts 2B
3. Evan Longoria 3B
4. Ben Zobrist DH
5. Sean Rodriguez LF
6. Yunel Escobar SS
7. James Loney 1B
8. Jose Lobaton C
9. Sam Fuld RF
SP Alex Cobb RHP
- Though Joe Maddon contends that Roberto Hernandez is still in line to make his normally scheduled start Wednesday, Rays beat writer Marc Topkin tweeted Saturday that Hernandez did not take batting practice with the other Rays pitchers. Maddon also walked on egg shells in his pre-game interview with WDAE Saturday, acknowledging that if the coaching staff cannot “fix” Hernandez, something else may need to happen. Tacit acknowledgement that the Rays may seek the services of Jake Odorizzi — at least until Chris Archer is ready to be called up — in lieu of Hernandez? Things that make you go hmm…