Even though it has been a disappointing 2016 San Diego Padres season, there have been a few bright spots. The team is currently rebuilding for the future, but still there have been some great moments so far this year. Fernando Rodney and the show he puts on for the crowd has been an absolute pleasure to watch. Padres fans were weary of the closer when the team first signed him, but there has been nothing but love for him in America’s Finest City.
In fact I can distinctly remember many fans complaining and mocking the closer for his antics. All is quiet now on that front. Yes Fernando Rodney is a unique individual. Yes, he shoots a make-believe arrow in the sky after every save. He also wears his hat cocked to one side. He does that (hat placement) to honor his father and once people find out why he does it, they pretty much lay off the Dominican pitcher.
To some fans those things are not needed in the game of baseball. They view them as disrespectful. However the closer doesn’t do these to offend anyone. He does it because that who he is. That’s the way he wears his hat and that is the way he celebrates getting the save for his team. He enjoys the game and has fun. That’s it.
If he shot an arrow in the direction of a hitter or a team, or if he did it after every strikeout you could make a case for it being a distraction. The flamboyant closer only does it when his team gets the win and most importantly he only does it when he accomplishes his job. That you have to respect the man and know there is no malice intended in his antics. Not that anyone has ever taken offense to his celebration, but I imagine many fans find it annoying.
Watching Rodney interviewed its obvious he enjoys keeping the team loose. The game is difficult enough. You do not need to put more pressure on yourself and Rodney does a great job of keeping the clubhouse happy and ready to play the game. After all it is just that. A game.
Fernando Rodney clearly understands that fact and he also realizes that his time in this league is precious. In Baltimore this week he allowed his first run of the year to score on a fluke base hit that struck the first base bag. Wil Myers was not able to handle the ball cleanly. The official scorer ruled the ball a hit and just like that Rodney had given up his first run of the 2016 season. Incredible that he made it all the way until late June before allowing a single run to score off of him.
In 27 games this season Rodney has recorded 16 saves in 27.2 innings pitched. He holds a 0.33 ERA and a .904 WHIP while striking out 31 and walking 12. His fastball is constantly in the mid 90’s and has been clocked as high as 97. He mixes that with a devastating change which is in the low 80’s. The swings batters take off of him remind me of the at bats hitters would have against Trevor Hoffman. Rodney is 39 and still throwing ridiculously hard. With a change up like he has, he could easily pitch in the league for another 2-4 years.
Rodney is making $1.6 million this season and the team has a club option for the 2017 season at $2 million (or a $400-K buyout). That is a bargain given the production Rodney has displayed so far. There will be temptation to deal the closer when the trade deadline approaches. It remains to be seen if the Padres will indeed move him. That really all depends on the return for him. A.J. Preller will surely weigh out all his options when the trade deadline nears. Until then Fernando Rodney will just keep letting the arrows fly.