Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney, Dennis Eckersley are a perfect match

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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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.