One would be hard-pressed to find a pair of seasons more similar than these two:
4-2, 45 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 73/4 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP
2-2, 46 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 74/15 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP
The first is Dennis Eckersley’s record-setting 1990 campaign with the A’s. The second is Fernando Rodney’s 2012 with the Rays.
Even more amazing, both were 35 years old.
Of course, Eckersley and Rodney had wildly different careers leading up to their remarkably similar seasons. Eckersley was a top-notch starter for five years before alcohol problems contributed to an early decline. Seemingly on the verge of washing out of the league, he made the switch to relieving in 1987 and turned into a Hall of Famer. 1990 was his third conseuctive year as a top-flight closer.
Rodney was plucked off the scrap heap by the Rays last winter after amassing a 4.50 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in his final year with the Angels. He did have one very successful year as a closer in 2009, going 37-for-38 in save opportunities for the Tigers, but even then he had a 4.40 ERA. He entered 2012 with a lifetime ERA of 4.29.
Where Rodney goes from here is anyone’s guess. But he need only get one out without allowing a run in the Rays’ last three games to finish with the lowest ERA, minimum 50 innings, of any pitcher in major league history.
White Sox ace Chris Sale will return after serving his team-issued five-game suspension. He’ll take on the Cub’s John Lackey in an 8:05 PM EDT start at Wrigley Field.
The lefty protested wearing throwback uniforms, which featured collars, this past weekend. He reportedly got into a shouting match with White Sox coaches and front office staff, and took a knife to his uniform as well as those of his teammates. GM Rick Hahn punished Sale for three offenses: violating team rules, insubordination, and destroying team equipment.
Sale apologized to fans as well as to the bullpen, which had to pick him up when he was scratched from Saturday’s start. But he didn’t apologize for standing up for what he believed in.
This isn’t Sale’s first conflict with the White Sox organization. He was part of the spring training Drake LaRoche controversy. He also was part of the club’s recent protest against the Mariners’ policy that siphoned money from clubhouse attendants. As a result of what appears to be a contentious relationship between Sale and the White Sox, many think the club will trade him if they get an enticing offer. Pitchers like Sale, however, are tough to find, and he could be under team control through 2019 if the White Sox pick up his ’18 and ’19 club options.
Sale enters Thursday’s start leading the majors with 14 wins as well as a 3.18 ERA and a 129/29 K/BB ratio in 133 innings. Could it be his last start as a member of the White Sox?
The rest of Thursday’s action…
Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson), 7:10 PM EDT
Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler), 7:10 PM EDT
St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT
Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT
Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EDT
Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks are close to trading Daniel Hudson. It’s not yet known who the trading partner would be, but obviously a number of teams are in the market for bullpen help.
Trading Hudson seemed like a good idea for a while, but he’s been on a terrible skid lately, with his ERA exploding by nearly three full runs in the past month. It now stands at 6.08, with Hudson having given up 22 earned runs in 16 and a third innings in June and July. The bad stretch has appeared to result in some frustration for Hudson. The other day he took to Twitter to describe his recent performance, calling the last month “brutal” and “absolutely awful.” He said this has “been one of the most frustrating stretch of games I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Then he deactivated his Twitter account.
Despite his recent struggles, and despite his checkered injury history, Hudson has been durable the past two seasons, pitching in 64 games last year and 42 so far this season. If this stretch is just that, a temporary skid, Hudson could help someone.