Mariners closer Fernando Rodney blew his third save of the season Tuesday and his ERA now stands at 6.85, but manager Lloyd McClendon made it very clear that he’s sticking with him in the ninth inning.
Rodney has struggled a little bit, but so has everybody else. But the fact is, he’s our closer. We need him. We are going to need him to be successful. I think people talk very lightly about changing closers. And that’s fine, but you have to have somebody to do it. You just don’t throw anybody in the ninth inning and say, “Let him do it.” Because what happens when that guy doesn’t do it? And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
McClendon has a history of sticking with closers well past their expiration dates, including Mike Williams and Jose Mesa. He clearly believes the ninth inning is vastly different than every other inning, but the “so has everybody else” quote about all the Mariners’ relievers struggling leaves out the fact that rookie setup man Carson Smith has a 1.17 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio in 23 innings after dominating in the minors.
When asked specifically about Smith by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the manager replied that “he’s a young kid and we have to be careful with him.”
McClendon and the Mariners are going to live or die with 38-year-old Fernando Rodney.
Wednesday night Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson homered for the fifth consecutive game, adding to what has been an incredible start for the 23-year-old rookie.
Five straight games with a home run ties the Dodgers’ franchise record, which Pederson now shares with Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Shawn Green, and Roy Campanella.
And not only does Pederson have 17 homers in 53 games, his home runs have traveled an average of 428 feet to lead all of baseball. He’s crushing pitches.
In addition to the spectacular power Pederson has also shown incredible patience at the plate, drawing 35 walks in 53 games. He’s hitting a modest .267, but all the power and patience combine to give him a lofty .393 on-base percentage and .606 slugging percentage.
Here’s a list of the highest OPS totals by a 23-year-old center fielder in MLB history:
Willie Mays 1954 1.078
Mickey Mantle 1955 1.042
Ken Griffey Jr. 1993 1.025
Al Simmons 1925 1.018
Ty Cobb 1910 1.008
JOC PEDERSON 2015 .999
Pederson has only played one-third of a season, but even with that caveat being on a list like that where the five guys ahead of him are all Hall of Famers (or soon to be Hall of Famers) is remarkable.
He’s currently out-hitting the other 23-year-old center fielder for a California team, reigning MVP Mike Trout, who has a measly* .932 OPS for the Angels this season.
* Note: .932 is a really, really good OPS.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who has a history of heart problems, was unavailable for Wednesday night’s game against the Rockies due to what manager Don Mattingly revealed was an issue that came up “during the game.”
However, neither Mattingly nor the Dodgers would give any further information to the media assembled in the clubhouse after the game and Jansen did not speak to the media before leaving the ballpark.
Adding to the level of concern, ESPN announcer Rick Sutcliffe tweeted the following after broadcasting the game:
Perhaps it’s nothing, but that certainly indicates Sutcliffe knows more about the situation than the Dodgers revealed to the assembled media and is very worried about Jansen’s health.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register described Mattingly as “evasive” when speaking to reporters, although he also notes that Jansen was healthy enough to remain in the clubhouse rather than be taken to the hospital.