Fernando Rodney #56
- Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 220
- 2008 Stats: 0-6, 4.91 ERA, 13 Saves
In a bottom-line business like major league baseball, fans tend to overlook stats such as 49 strikeouts in 40 innings or 13 saves from a late-inning reliever like Fernando Rodney. Six blown saves and an ERA a whisker under five are more glaring and more representative of Detroitâ€™s bullpen woes in 2008. Yet despite that lackluster campaign, the Tigers expect big things from Rodney in â€™09.
Though he spent April and May on the DL, the â€™08 season wasnâ€™t all bad for the senior-ranking Tiger in the bullpen; he assembled stretches of lights-out appearances, including June and July in which hitters produced a .183 average against him. Over that same timeframe he fanned 37 in 27.1 innings pitched. The key to success for Rodney is a breathtaking changeup that, when near the plate, is difficult for hitters to resist. Of course, a high-90s fastball makes the off-speed pitches that much more tantalizing.
With Todd Jonesâ€™ retirement, Brandon Lyon‘s arrival and Joel Zumayaâ€™s (tentative) return, chances are that Rodney will begin 2009 as a setup man. If something goes wrong with Lyon or Zumaya and if Rodney can harness his pitches, develop consistency, and fortify his mental makeup, he could, in the end, be the Tigersâ€™ answer at closer.
For a pitcher with Rodney’s track record, that’s an awful lot of ifs.