Fernando Rodney Might Not Be Worth The Risk


Fernando Rodney holds the all-time MLB record for best ERA ever. Of all time. He set this record three years ago, and has been great every year since, too. Tonight, with the Seattle Mariners leading the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4, Rodney came in to close things out. Things went poorly.

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Here’s how the bottom of the ninth went: Justin Turner single, Jimmy Rollins single with Turner advancing to third, Carl Crawford reaches on a fielder’s choice with Turner out at home, Adrian Gonzalez walk, Howie Kendrick walk-off two-run single. It was a brutal ending to a close, entertaining game, and now the Mariners are 3-5. This is Rodney’s fault.

Rodney has always been walk-happy, to the point that it nearly ruined his career on multiple occasions. He’s succeeded despite the walks as of late, but this year he’s got way, way more walks than strikeouts. He’s been wild as hell, but with none of the positives that made the walks okay in the past.

Small sample size, of course. This is essentially a two-game sample, a stretch during which Rodney has looked exceptionally bad. Rodney hadn’t blown a save since July 20th, 2014. But here’s the thing with him: he’s a risk because of the way he pitches. The last few years he’s been good enough at blowing dudes away that the walks haven’t mattered. But even when he’s been successful, the margin of error has been thin.

Now we’re having that reality shoved in our faces. Fernando Rodney is one of the most high risk, high reward pitchers in the game, and right now it’s hard to picture him having success. Last year he was the closer in the league’s best bullpen. A week into this season and he looks like hot trash. The only difference? Less strikeouts.

We’ll see what comes of this. This was almost a great Mariners win, until Fernando Rodney coughed it up. He coughed it up in about the most discouraging way possible, and now the Mariners (and everyone else, for that matter) are forced to acknowledge the sketchy presence at the way back of their bullpen. Rodney is probably still a good reliever, but he’s also still a wild reliever. Hard to trust wild relievers.