Friday, June 29, 2018

Experiencing Fernando Rodney

The Twins got the not-so-good Fernando Rodney Experience on Thursday. The Twins closer hit one batter and walked two, the second with the bases loaded, to blow a save opp. The Twins eventually prevailed in 13 innings anyway, but Rodney's loss of command stressed his bullpen mates and leaves the relief corps wearied going forward.

That said, Rodney has been impressively good since April's chronic uncertainty. His ERA remains below 3, which didn't seem possible two months ago (his ERA entering May was 5.87).

It is a major oversimplification to depict the Twins' offseason closer decision as a binary one of Rodney or Brandon Kintzler; there was a wide range of options available to the Minnesota front office, some more practical than others.

Kintzler took a slightly richer deal to be a setup man with Washington than the 41-year-old Rodney accepted with the Twins. At the time, I thought, and wrote, that the Twins would have been better off bringing back Kintzler.

As June nears its conclusion, it appears that I was wrong. Kintzler's walk rate has almost doubled this year. Rodney, who carries a merited reputation for lack of command, actually has a superior BB/9 rate this season. Kintzler's ERA is pushing 4.50.

To be fair, Kintzler's FIP -- fielding independent pitching -- suggests that he is actually pitching almost exactly as well this year as last. FIP says he didn't fully merit his 3.03 cumulative ERA in 2017 and is doing better than his 4.45 this season.

But Rodney is getting better results than Kintzler. I didn't see that coming.

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