KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t think he would use closer Fernando Rodney for the fourth straight time a couple hours before Sunday’s game.
But after talking with Rodney, McClendon called on his closer again, and Rodney delivered for his third save of the series.
“It’s simple,” McClendon explained. “I thought about it. We had a talk. He felt good. If you really think about it, his last three days, his workload was very, very efficient.”
Rodney was efficient again in closing out Sunday’s 2-1 win for his 21st save, continuing a trend that has been taking shape the past few weeks.
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The Fernando Rodney Experience has often been judged by its turbulence.
Rodney, the Mariners closer, made a habit earlier this season of turning save opportunities into three-out thrill rides. But of late, the Rodney Experience has mellowed, and McClendon pointed to one reason: Rodney is throwing more strikes.
“I think he’s making a conscious effort to work ahead in the count,” McClendon said. “He realizes what teams have tried to do and that’s just take pitches. He’s finding the strike zone a lot earlier, and when he gets ahead, he’s tough.”
In his last 14 innings, Rodney has allowed 10 base runners and one run, and opponents are hitting .167 off him. He entered Sunday having thrown 69 percent of his pitches for strikes during the previous 13 innings.
Those numbers stand in noticeable contrast with how he pitched earlier. In 161/3 innings to start the season, Rodney allowed 30 base runners and eight runs (six earned). He threw 59 percent of his pitches for strikes, and opponents hit .297 off him.
“My guess is teams are saying that he lacks command so let’s make him throw a strike,” McClendon said. “But that hasn’t been the case lately.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org