Fernando Rodriguez might make a name for himself after all, just not in a good way.
The Astros right-hander took his eighth relief loss after giving up two runs in the 10th inning Sunday against the Brewers. His ERA jumped to 6.61.
Rodriguez has 34 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings this season, but his poor pitching could get him demoted anyway. If so, he might avoid becoming just the eighth reliever since 2000 and first since 2008 to lose to 10 games:
Luis Ayala – 12 losses – 2004 Expos
Scot Shields – 11 losses – 2005 Angels
Luis Ayala – 10 losses – 2008 Nationals/Mets
Yhency Brazoban – 10 losses – 2005 Dodgers
Jose Jimenez – 10 losses – 2002 Rockies
Al Levine – 10 losses – 2001 Angels
Derek Lowe – 10 losses – 2001 Red Sox
Ayala (2.69) and Shields (2.75) both had great ERAs in the seasons in which they top the list, and Shields actually had 10 wins to go against his 11 losses. Ayala’s second 10-loss season was closer to what one might expect; he had a 5.71 ERA that year.
The major league record for relief losses in a season belongs to the Braves’ Gene Garber. He lost 16 games while throwing 106 innings in 1979. All of the 23 relievers to lose at least 12 games in a season did so while throwing at least 90 innings. In general, one has to be pretty good to get that much work in close games.
That doesn’t explain Rodriguez, though.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.