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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-11, Fernando Rodney

Our new closer had a Jekyll and Hyde 2016. Which will we get in 2017?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks-Media Day Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 11: Fernando Rodney

  • Date of birth: March 18, 1977
  • Ht/Wt: 5’11”, 230 lbs
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 67 games, 65.1 IP, 3.44 ERA. 74:37 K:BB
  • SnakePit Rating: 6.48

I don’t know whether Rodney really doesn’t like Florida, but it’s rare I’ve seen such a striking difference in a player’s numbers before and after a mid-season trade. He was brilliant for the San Diego Padres: over 28 appearances and 28.2 innings, he had a 0.31 ERA, having allowed one earned run. One. But just four days after his trade to the Marlins, he’d allowed more than that, and went on to post a 5.89 ERA in 36.2 innings for Miami. His strikeout rate was similar for both teams, better than ten per 9IP: but his walk and home-run rates were significantly higher for the Marlins. The question is, which one is the “real” Fernando Rodney?

He turned 40 over the weekend, and will be the oldest player to pitch for the D-backs since Takashi Saito in 2012 (also becoming the 10th “forty-something” in franchise history). Saito and Rodney also share something else: they’re two of only four National League pitchers to post a K-rate above ten per 9IP, while throwing 30+ innings at age 39 or later. [Saito did in 2010; the others are Randy Johnson in 2004 + his injury-curtailed 2007, and Nolan Ryan in 1987] If he can sustain that in 2017, he should be fine, and an ERA in line with his FIP last year of 3.80 would be okay. And his velo last year was fine, at 96.1 mph, barely changed from the previous two seasons.

On the other hand: he turned 40 over the weekend, and we’ve seen how players that age can fall off a cliff. Take Johnson: at age 40, Randy had an ERA+ 176; at age 41, it was 112; in his age 42 season, it dropped to 90. But this is only a one year, $2.75 million package (though there is considerable additional money in incentives), so it’s more likely Rodney is intended as a bridge toward a younger, long-term closer such as Jake Barrett or Jared Miller.

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