And because Jason Motte got hurt and Rafael Soriano fizzled (and got hurt), Fernando Rodney is the latest “I-used-to-be-awesome-but-now-I’m-kind-of-not” pitcher to be signed by the Chicago Cubs in hopes of aiding the bullpen down the stretch. The question, as it is for all trades of this nature, is whether or not the 38-year-old Rodney has anything left.
Rodney’s 2015 numbers suggest he does not.
In 54 appearances, he’s pitched to a 5.68 ERA. His 5.25 FIP suggests he’s been every bit as bad as the 5.68 ERA says he has been. His K/9 of 7.64 is his lowest since 2010, his BB/9 is an ugly 4.44, and he’s given up as many home runs (8) as he has across the last three years combined. 2015 has been ugly for Rodney, and when ugly stands out among the 2015 Seattle Mariners, it’s kind of a dire situation.
So why did the Cubs trade a player to be named (or cash) for Rodney? Because he had 133 saves between 2012-2014, and, albeit via a rocky road, has another 16 this year. Add in playing for Joe Maddon for two of those three seasons, and the Cubs fishing for a diamond in the rough to round out the bullpen, Rodney looks like another low risk, high reward trade for Theo Epstein and company.
If he’s any good.
He’s worth the risk because some of those numbers from 2012-14 are absolutely devastating –0.60 ERA across 76 games in 2012. You read that right. A zero point six zero ERA across an entire season. The fact that Joe Maddon watched that happen from the Tampa Bay dugout might explain why he might be intrigued to let Rodney take his shot in a good, but occasionally uncomfortable, Cubs bullpen. With the Cubs currently housing four lefties in the bullpen, and Motte on the DL, adding another potentially quality arm to the mix could help with getting right handed hitters out, which might —might– be beneficial for Rodney, who gets blasted by lefties. It might also take some stress off of Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.
It seems a tall order to ask Rodney to fix everything and stop giving up long balls as he prepares to potentially make the move to Wrigley, but that’s exactly what the Cubs are hoping.