Injuries in baseball are commonplace and usually debilitating to a team forced to fill the vacancy left by the injured player. However there are some injuries that open the door for others to step in and succeed. Case in point was the injury Tampa Bay Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth suffered last season that allowed veteran reliever Fernando Rodney another chance to assert himself as one of the bullpen’s best.
Prior to last season Rodney hadn’t closed out games on a full-time basis since the 2009 season as a member of the Detroit Tigers. The two seasons leading up to 2012 Rodney pitched for the Los Angeles Angels earning a few saves along the way but struggled and appeared to be on the downward slide of his career.
The numbers that Rodney complied in 2012 are absolutely astounding and even more noteworthy for a player in his mid- thirties.
Rodney saved more games than Atlanta Braves All-Star closer Craig Kimbrell, gave up fewer earned runs in more innings pitched, had a lower ERA and lower walk per inning ratio than Kimbrell.
In 74 innings pitched Rodney gave up five earned runs, not a typo folks, five earned runs. Rodney was 48 for 50 in save chances and had an unbelievable era of 0.60.
Rodney finished 5th in CY Young voting and 13th in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League. If the Rays are going to compete in the east they need the Rodney from 2012 roaring out of their bullpen not the Rodney from years past with an ERA over four.
It is hard to imagine Rodney will be able to duplicate his magical season, but stranger things have happened and who knows, maybe Rodney is like fine wine, just gets better with age.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.