42 year old pitcher, Fernando Rodney has been designated for assignment by the Oakland Athletics. This comes as not much of a shocker as his usage has been down progressively as the season has gone on, and also the fact that his ERA is hanging just under double digits (9.42).
Rodney has ranged from one of the most electric and automatic relievers in baseball, to a fairly average and mediocre one in the span of this decade. Despite what other people might have to say about it, I still remember his freakish 2012 season like it was yesterday, and man was it an incredible to watch him pitch. His signature way of closing out a game will forever be embedded in my brain and deserves to be embedded in yours too.
For those who are not aware of what happened 7 short years ago, let me enlighten you about what went down. Fernando Rodney was entering his age 35 season with his new team, the Tampa Bay Rays. After being signed with the Tigers 15 years prior as an amateur free agent, and then a 2 year stint with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rays inked Rodney for a cool $1.75 million. 15 years in pro-baseball (9 in the majors) is a long time, and 15 years as a relief pitcher is a VERY long time. Almost no one stays in the game that long anymore as a reliever just because of how easy it is to lose this job to another athlete who throws the same stuff as you, but isn’t giving up runs. To be quite honest, Fernando Rodney throughout his career thus far, was a fairly average reliever/closer.
From 2002 when he made his debut, to 2011 where he last played for the Angels, he had a career 4.29 ERA and 393 strikeouts in exactly 430 innings pitched. Not too shabby, but nothing to ride home about.
But let’s get back into what happened the year he signed down in Tampa. Here’s his mind-blowing stat line for all of 2012:
74.2 IP, 76 SO, and a 0.60 ERA… Those numbers do not deceive you folks, that is a 0.60 ERA over 76 games. That equates to only 5 earned runs scored on Rodney in the entirety of the 2012 season and dropped his previously mentioned career ERA down to 3.75 over his, at that point, 10 seasons in the majors.
That is an absolutely ballistic statistic (yes I made that rhyme on purpose) and a freakishly incredible task to try and have any pitcher average a single run per every 15 innings pitched. Rodney tore through teams with his 98 mph heater that had enough bite on it to fool even the best hitters in the league. Complemented by an equally filthy changeup floating around 88 mph, this combo allowed Rodney to rack up 48 saves and become the only pitcher with at least 40 saves, a sub-1 ERA, WHIP, and K rate of at least one per inning.
Where Does Rodney Go Now?
This question is a very tough one to ask, as Rodney was the oldest player in the major leagues before his designation for assignment. He no longer is the flame throwing powerhouse he once was, and this season alone he has already given up 20 hits and 15 earned runs in 14.1 innings pitched.
Even though the league thinks that he has a shot at pitching again, I’m not sure he does unless there is a team just begging for some type of veteran reliever present in the bullpen. (Maybe the Mariners???) Either way, Rodney has almost definitely fired his last arrow as an Oakland Athletic. Does that mean we will ever see his invisible quiver and arrows ever again? Possibly. Baseball is always better when you have people giving it their all with every pitch, swing, or sprint to first base. Carlos Gomez resigning with the Mets is a perfect example of bringing back a competitive player to the game, who despite his age and majority of lackluster AB’s so far this year, can still manage to bring life and joy to the game.
The question we have to be asking ourselves with Rodney is, “Does he still have anything left in the tank?” I think he does. However, I’m not sure running on fumes is going to cut it to make it on to a big league club. Rodney will probably get signed by a struggling AL team soon where hopefully he will be able to finish his career on his own terms, as all baseball players alike should.