So the Red Sox faithful are starting to get fed up with Jonathan Papelbon? Perfect! Time to insert Fernando Rodney as the league’s best closer.
Yes, that Fernando Rodney. The one who made grown Tigers fans actually cry on August 3, 2008, when he inherited a 10th inning lead over the Rays and blew it by walking the leadoff batter, hitting the next player in the chest (IN THE CHEST!), allowing a base hit, and walking two more batters to give Tampa the 6-5 win.
But this year Rodney has kept his napalm in his satchel when it mattered most. In 17 save opportunities, he’s blown nary a game, while posting the following numbers in those situations:
17 innings, 2 runs, 16 strikeouts (1.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
He has appeared in 15 other games, with, um these “numbers,” if that’s the word:
15 innings, 9 runs, 11 strikeouts (5.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)
So he only pours the gasoline on the fire when it doesn’t matter. I’ll take that. That puts his total ERA to a fat 3.94, which doesn’t look at all kosher for a closer. Joe Nathan has better overall stats (some that make even me weak in the knees) except for those two leads he’s lost.
There’s no question Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres is the best closer in the National League, no matter how you comb his stats, except for his name. As in, who the heck is Heath Bell?
Disputable or not, the “best closer today” is a fickle label. It changes from season to season, and even month to month. When Francisco Rodriguez surpassed Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves in a season, it was an accomplishment held by a guy who is being talked about at the water cooler for walking Mariano Rivera last night. Hooray! You’ve saved the game. Now don’t blow it tomorrow.