Closer Fernando Rodney’s strong August: By the numbers
As closers do when they make mistakes, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Fernando Rodney took heaping criticism at two separate points this season.
Four of his blown saves were part of back-to-back appearances, and three of them involved snowballing that made them stand out as more problematic performances than one bad pitch.
Otherwise, Rodney has been steady enough for manager Torey Lovullo, ranking fifth in the Majors with 32 total saves — of course, it helps that his D-backs are winning quite a few games.
His month of August led the D-backs manager to proclaim the 40-year-old “remarkable.”
“He comes in, wants to pitch, he never wants off days,” Lovullo said Saturday. “When I tell him he’s down, there’s some reluctance to his response in saying, ‘OK.’ But he’s a true team player and he wants the ball every day. If you’re asking me for a thought, what comes to mind is, ‘remarkable.’”
That description might be warranted of late.
And with the D-backs readying for the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to visit Chase Field from Tuesday until Thursday, the pressure to continue a strong month is on the closer should his team take any leads into the ninth inning.
Here is a look at Rodney’s month so far, by the numbers.
Trailing only a red-hot June in which he struck out 50 percent of batters, Rodney’s K% registered at 29.3 in August.
In 11 appearances, Rodney has gone 10.0 innings, or 30 outs while allowing three earned runs. That’s a 2.70 ERA.
Rodney managed 10 saves in his 11 games this month, including a recent stretch against the Mets and Giants where he made five in the span of six days before he was shelved to rest Sunday in an Arizona win over the Giants.
He’s five saves off the record for a single month. Keep in mind: Rodney just might have challenged that record — held by John Wetteland (June 1996), Chad Cordero (June 2005) and Lee Smith (June 1993) — had the D-backs not gone 13-13 in August. If the D-backs found a way to sweep the three-game series against the 91-38 Dodgers, and Rodney made every save, he would still be two games off the record of 15 saves in a single month.
Of the six hits he’s allowed during the 11 August appearances, Rodney allowed four in one game. His lone non-save of the month came Aug. 12 against the Chicago Cubs. He lasted just 0.2 innings, which he earned on groundouts before allowing four singles and two earned runs. Rodney was then pulled in favor of David Hernandez, who closed out a 6-2 D-backs win.
More than any prior month, Rodney is keeping the ball down. His groundball-to-flyball ratio is 2.17, which is much higher than his previous best month (1.40 in June).
Rodney’s WHIP (walks and hit per inning pitched) stands at 1.10 heading into the series against the Dodgers.
Take away the one ugly appearance, and Rodney’s ERA would sit at 0.96 for the month. That’s one earned run in 9.1 innings. The single earned run outside the Cubs game came Aug. 21 against the Mets, when Rodney allowed a solo shot to Michael Conforto in the bottom of the 10th but got the final out as Arizona won, 3-2.
No, it’s not Rodney’s June in which he appeared in nine games (9.0 innings) and didn’t allow a single hit, nor his May in which opponents batted .069 with two hits in 9.2 innings against him. But allowing opponents to hit .171 isn’t so bad.