Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Chasing saves with Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney's Grapefruit League stats were unimpressive. His two-homer outing Sunday left him with six runs allowed in seven innings in Florida, and left Dick Bremer on the telecast expounding on how Rodney still has his fastball velocity and his changeup.

Yes, and Rodney still has the command issues that have plagued him throughout his long career.

It's spring training. Soon that line on Rodney's Baseball Reference page will go away. Nail down a couple saves in Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the coming week, and few will remember his spring training stats.

Still, he's 41 and his contract is relatively disposable (one year, $4.5 million guaranteed with a team option for 2019). The Twins have Addison Reed, who has closed in the past (125 career saves) if they decide to replace Rodney with a veteran; they also have a selection of young relief prospects if they chose to go that route.

Going young at the end of games doesn't appear to be the decision makers' preference, however. Paul Molitor inherited Glen Perkins as his closer, and when Perkins' shoulder gave out has consistently chosen an established but low-ceiling arm for the ninth inning (Kevin Jepsen, Brandon Kintzler, Matt Belisle).

You can't get much more veteran than Rodney, and with a career ERA of 3.73 over 15 seasons, the ceiling is already constucted. Expectations for the team are high; I don't think they should be as high for Rodney. Which suggests to me that his leash may be rather short. The season starts in ernest on Thursday, and it's time for him to get some outs.

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