After being scored upon in 9 of his last 13 appearances and collecting 2 blown saves and 2 losses in the process, Fernando Rodney was not the arm called upon on Saturday evening to protect a lead in the 9th inning for the Mariners. Instead, manager Lloyd McClendon turned to the youngster Carson Smith who had no issues with a clean inning of work with one strikeout to earn the first save of his career.
I have been singing this tune for weeks now as reported in detail on May 23 in “BLOW-PEN Report: Fernando Rodney and His Broken Arrow,” and even before that I issued some tidbits on the situation. Rodney just has been horrible this season and it was only a matter of time before Smith was given a chance to close out a game. However, unlike the situations in Miami and Texas that I also reported on in the BLOW-PEN Report before those closer situations changed, I think that Rodney will get a chance to try and prove himself again. The fact that McClendon stuck with Rodney for so long in his time of struggle suggests to me that he really prefers Rodney as his closer and/or does not think that Smith is prepared to be thrusted into that role full-time in just his first full season in the Majors. And as I suggested in the BLOW-PEN Report, it could be a case of Rodney tipping his pitches, which is something that would be fixable if that’s what the ultimate issue is. But whether or not Rodney does work out the kinks to earn his manager’s trust back is certainly far from likelihood.
For now, I think that Rodney will see one of the next save opportunities and if he does well then he will continue to see more until he blows another. But obviously Smith needs to be picked up in all league formats as he has very dominant stuff to be very successful as a Major League closer. If not right now, then Smith should assume the role as closer for the Mariners later this summer when Rodney could possibly get traded if the Mariners are not in contention, or the beginning of next year. So for keeper and dynasty leagues, he should have been grabbed a while ago.
Smith currently has a 1.08 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and 29 K/5 BB in 25 IP.
Let’s check out the rest of Saturday’s slate.