CHICAGO – There was once a time where Joe Maddon looked to him out of the bullpen and frequently expected success.
In 2012 and 2013 Fernando Rodney was the man who the Rays’ manager would look to close out games. He did so 48 times in 2012 and then 37 in 2013-blowing just ten chances during those two seasons and helping Tampa Bay to the playoffs in the latter campaign.
That might seem like a long time ago for Rodney, even from just 12 months ago. After 48 saves with the Mariners in 2014, Rodney has just 16 this year and has blown six other chances to close out games. He was designated for assignment last Saturday which likely would have meant the end of Rodney’s season.
But an old friend is ready to give him another chance.
After their 9-1 loss to the Giants in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon the Cubs announced a minor trade to acquire Rodney from the Mariners for cash considerations.
The question for many is this: Can Rodney find the magic from the last three seasons in Tampa and Seattle or has the pitcher seen his best days past towards the end of his 13th year.
Statistics show he’s trending a bit downward. In August Rodney had a 6.23 ERA despite picking up a pair of victories while also blowing a save against the Rockies on August 5th. In his last appearance against the White Sox on August 21st Rodney lasted just a third of an inning, allowing three earned runs on three hits before being pulled.
Rodney hasn’t been injured. Just a case of bad pitching.
If Rodney is successful he would help a Cubs’ bullpen that has struggled with consistency all season long. Against the Giants on Tuesday they allowed five runs and in Thursday’s game at San Francisco they allowed four more.
While they don’t need help at closer (Hector Rondon is 9-for-10 in August) they could use an arm out of the bullpen especially with Jason Motte on the 15-day disabled list.
The questions is how much Rodney of a positive can Rodney be? Maddon has used his tricks to inspire players before, can he turn back the clock for his former closer?