McClendon not worried about Rodney’s shaky saves
Mariners closer Fernando Rodney has allowed runs in five of his six appearances in May, but the veteran right-hander has recorded nine straight saves since his one blown opportunity in early April and manager Lloyd McClendon said that means he’s getting his job done.
Rodney’s ERA rose to 6.61 after allowing a two-run homer to Chris Colabello in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Blue Jays, but he’s saved 11 of 12 games this year and 32 of his last 33 opportunities dating back to last July.
“I don’t think you worry about his ERA much,” McClendon said prior to Saturday’s game. “A lot of that is inflated from (two early season games). My old skipper told me this a long time ago. Your responsibility as a manager is to get the ball to your closer in the ninth inning. After that, what are you going to do? He either wins it or loses it.”
Rodney took the loss against the Red Sox last week at Safeco when he entered a 1-1 tie and surrendered the go-ahead run, but in straight save situations he remains near perfect, albeit in a non-perfect way. His ERA in six May games is 9.00 (six runs in six innings) with nine hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
Opposing batters are hitting .308 against him this season, well above his career average of .234, and his WHIP of 1.71 is well north of his career 1.37.
McClendon says Rodney seems to pitch to the situation, gearing up more in close save situations than the three-run lead he inherited on Friday. And he says that’s not unique to his closer.
“He gets those one-run leads, I think he’s a little bit more focused,” McClendon said. “Three-run lead, he’s a little more relaxed. It’s just the animal that most closers are. It’s not just him. I’ve seen it with other guys, too. It gets within one or two and they tighten down.
“You look at last night, the 3-0 pitch [that Josh Donaldson popped out to center on for the last out] was painted. Before that he was in the middle of the plate. That 3-0 pitch was right on the black. Do you like it? No. But it is what it is. That’s the animal that they are.”
McClendon believes it takes a special mentality to close out games and Rodney – whose 144 saves since 2012 are second only to Craig Kimbrel’s 150 in the Majors – has the ability to deal with both the success and inevitable failures in the high-profile position.
“Our closer is what he is,” McClendon said. “Hopefully he’s 49 out of 50 with a 6.00 ERA. I don’t give a [blank]. I don’t care about his ERA. Just close the games out. Sometimes it’s not easy.”
• Austin Jackson went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts in his sixth rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma on Friday while playing center field in a 10-9 loss at Iowa. He’s hitting .250 (6-for-24) with four walks and seven strikeouts. McClendon said he’s not sure when Jackson will be recalled as he returns from a sprained right ankle.
“The ankle is feeling good, but the bat isn’t,” McClendon said. “As of right now, it’s still open.”
• Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma still isn’t throwing as he remains in Seattle getting treatment on his strained right lat muscle.
“I would imagine when we get back he’ll start throwing again and then start his process all over again,” McClendon said. “He’s going to be out awhile.”