If you just glimpsed at the 2013 bullpen you would think that searching Tampa Bay’s bullpen for “speculative” saves would be a waste of time. They had a dominant closer, so why bother? Well, when the dominant closer is Fernando Rodney, time needs to be spent investigating. Lets take a look:
He will be 36-years old by the time Opening Day rolls around, and it isn’t like we don’t have a significant amount of data to use in making a decision. There is no taking away from the unbelievable year Rdney posted, with a 0.60 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. However, just look at the ERA // WHIP from the previous five years:
- 2007 – 4.26 // 1.32
- 2008 – 4.91 // 1.59
- 2009 – 4.40 // 1.47
- 2010 – 4.24 // 1.54
- 2011 – 4.50 // 1.69
Could someone in Tampa Bay have finally gotten through to him? Maybe, but that track record and his age speaks volumes to me. He hasn’t posted a strikeout rate above 7.31 since 2008, but he suddenly was back up to 9.16? He has a career walk ate of 4.42, yet last season was at 1.81?
It just doesn’t add up, nor does his .220 BABIP or 89.4% strand rate.
The bottom line is that he is going to regress, and chances are it is going to be a dramatic fall. After saving 48 games last season, don’t be surprised to see him implode and lose his job in 2013. For me the question is when, not if, it all falls apart. There’s just too long of a track record and too much luck in his 2012 numbers to think otherwise
He showed good enough control and an above average strikeout rate while working as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues (overall his minor league marks were 10.43 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9). Now a reliever, he has a chance to be dominant. Last season he posted an impressive 11.87 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 over 55.1 innings.
You certainly can argue that there was a little bit of luck (.243 BABIP). You also would love to see him not be quite as reliant on his fastball, which he threw 87.2% of the time in ’12. That said, I would be more comfortable with his overall ability the I would Rodney’s.
The fact that he is left handed could work against him, though he was actually better against righties (.097) than lefties (.256) last season. The presence of Cesar Ramos helps as well, since he doesn’t have to be pigeon-holed as a left-handed specialist.
At 26-years old, McGee has the potential to be a much longer-term solution. When Rodney falters, he is the best bet to scoop up the opportunities.
Considering he has posted WHIPs of 0.80, 0.92 and 0.99 the past three seasons he is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked. He couples very good control (2.36 BB/9 for his career) with a solid groundball rate (over 50% each of the past three seasons). Last season he saw his K/9 balloon, though its safer to expect a number in the 8s (8.02 for his career).
While he has been solid, he will be 37-years old and has never really been given an opportunity to close. The Rays likely will opt to keep him in the setup role, though there always is the potential.
Dane De La Rosa
He struggled in his Major League debut (12.60 ERA over 5.0 innings), but he posted 87 K over 68.2 innings while saving 20 games at Triple-A. Of course, he also walked 42 batters, a number that makes it nearly impossible to excel. It’s unlikely he makes an impact, but you never know in Tampa Bay.
What are your thoughts on the Tampa bullpen? Do you think Rodney can excel once again? If he does falter, who do you think takes over?
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Make sure to check out all of our 2013 Searching for Saves columns: