Last night Fernando Rodney saved his 45th game of the season, tying the franchise single season save record which was previously set by a former closer (he who shall not be named) back in 2010. Better yet, Rodney still has ample opportunity to lay claim to soul possession of the Rays save record with seven games left in the season. And though 45 (or more) saves is quite an accomplishment for any pitcher, it’s not the only mark of greatness that the Rays closer has the opportunity to surpass. If Rodney can accrue a mere 3.1 scoreless innings between now and the end of the season, he will go down in the annals MLB history as the only relief pitcher to have a sub 0.61 ERA with more than forty saves, breaking the record previously set by Dennis Eckersley in 1990. Not to shabby for a pitcher with a career 3.77 ERA who’s only had a sub 3.00 ERA once in ten years of big league experience. Suffice to say, the Rays should pick up his option in the upcoming off-season. But that’s neither here or now.
Tampa Bay picked up Rodney for a cool $1.75 MM, (and a $2.5MM option for the 2013) season following a lackluster 2011 season, where the hard throwing RHP went 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA. Andrew Friedman and Co. saw something in Rodney, a player that’s had a storied history of control issues. Rodney posted a 1:1 K/BB ratio on the backs of 28 walks just a season prior.
There was a fair share of chatter over why the Rays would even want to sign Fernando. But Tampa Bay has had a track record of rejuvenating the careers of pitchers that have found themselves traveling down a wayward path, and maybe they could do the same with Rodney. In any case, at only $1.75 MM, it was easily worth the risk. Considering that he’s posted an almost 5:1 K/BB (71 K/15 BB) ratio, it almost seems silly that any of us questioned Friedman’s move.
He’d be the first to tell you that he’s always had good stuff, and he has. So what’s the difference? We think that he made a simple tweak: Rodney’s pitching from the first base side of the rubber.
Also, take a look at the chart below which shows Rodney’s horizontal release points by the year. At no point has Rodney been this far to the first base side of the rubber.
Sure, it could all be a coincidence. But you really can’t help but wonder if shifting over to the left has made a huge difference in his previous control issues. You’ve also got to also wonder if it helped his Bugs Bunny change-up, while also making it easier for Rodney to nestle the inside corner of the plate, making it a more attractive pitch for a batter to swing at.
The New What Next
- Chicago has averaged 2.5 runs and hit .226 the last eight games.
- The Rays start the day three games behind Oakland for the second AL wild card and must also overtake the Los Angeles Angels.
- Tampa Bay, has outscored opponents 55-17 during their seven game winning streak, and looks to win eight in a row for the first time since a club-record 12-game run June 9-22, 2004.
- The White Sox swept a three-game series against the Rays on the road in May.
- How do the Rays match-up to the ChiSox starters? Let’s see.
- Jake Peavy: The Rays have posted a .309 BA/.350 OBP/.545 SLG/.895 OPS against Peavy, though they haven’t faced him since 2010. Key match-ups: Reid Brignac (3-6, 2B, 3 RBI), Carlos Pena (3-10, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB), Ryan Roberts (1-3), Sean Rodrigues (1-2), BJ Upton (2-5, 2B, BB), Ben Zobrist (3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB)
- Gavin Floyd: Tampa Bay has posted a .242 BA/.307 OBP/.438 SLG/.745 OPS line against Floyd, with a handful of players putting up some good numbers. Key match-ups: Reid Brignac (2-7), Sam Fuld (2-7, 2B, 2 RBI), Chris Gimenez (2-6), Matt Joyce (3-8, 2B, BB), Jeff Keppinger (1-3), Luke Scott (5-17, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (4-14, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB)
- Chris Sale: Ugh. The Rays have posted a .100 BA/.229 OBP/.100 SLG/.329 OPS line against Sale, with only Jose Lobaton posting good numbers against.
- Francisco Liriano: Tampa Bay has posted much better numbers against Liriano than, well…Chris Sale. They’ve put up a .264 BA/.398 OBP/.460 SLG/.858 OPS line against. Key match-ups: Sam Fuld (1-2, 2B, 2 BB), Chris Gimenez (2-6, 2B, 2 BB), Desmond Jennings (1-2, HR, 3 RBI), Elliot Johnson (1-3, RBI), Evan Longoria (5-16, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Jose Molina (2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB), BJ Upton (5-17, 2 2B, RBI, 2 BB)
- Rotowire had this to say about the White Sox series starters: Floyd took the loss against the Angels on Sunday after allowing four runs on seven hits over six innings. Sale was impressive Monday night against the Indians, allowing three runs over seven innings of work. Liriano was knocked around Tuesday, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks over 3.2 innings, in the White Sox’s 4-3 loss to the Indians.
- The A’s lost Thursday, so with a Rays win tonight they would be within two games of second wild card.