It happened on Saturday night after the Mariners blew yet another save, this time to the White Sox, en route to yet another extra innings loss. You’ve heard about teams releasing bad news (from a public relations standpoint) on late Friday afternoons, as it tends to be ignored by the regular fans who are getting ready for a fun-filled weekend after yet another soul-sucking work week; but this goes even deeper! Saturday night, 10pm. I was on Twitter all night and I STILL almost let the news slip by me!
Also, weirdly enough, Fernando Rodney had absolutely nothing to do with our loss on Saturday! Granted, he had a major hand in burying us on Friday night (after yet another discouraging King Felix start), giving up 3 runs in 0.1 innings, but that doesn’t totally explain why the hammer went down on Saturday night.
Fernando Rodney has had few brief stretches of brilliance this year, dominated by utter incompetence on the mound. This is pretty much the exact opposite of his 2014 season, and a major reason why the Mariners are far from contention. They thought it might have been Rodney tipping his pitches – and when they cleaned up that aspect, he did rip off nine consecutive scoreless appearances – but the fact of the matter is, Rodney has no idea where the ball is going, and he’s being punished accordingly. This was, of course, an issue last year as well (and has been an issue his whole career). Sometimes, you’re able to get away with a total lack of command and luck into a few above-average seasons. But, the piper is always right around the corner, waiting to get paid, and he got his BIG TIME in 2015.
The only upside I can possibly see in releasing Rodney right now is, it gives us a few more opportunities to look at some younger relief pitchers, in hopes that our bullpen won’t be completely worthless again next year. The problem with that is, I don’t think a lot of these guys are ready for the Big Leagues (if they ever will be), and so it looks like we’re in for a lot of ugly finishes down the stretch. Yeah, Rodney has been shitty too, and he provides more than his fair share of ugly appearances, but he’s also somewhat capable at times, and compared to some of the younger bullpen guys we’ve seen this year, Rodney is downright serviceable (I defy you to write a more glowing compliment).
I suppose, more than anything, this was done as a favor to Rodney. He gets a week to see if another team will pick him up before rosters expand, thereby potentially making him eligible to pitch in the post-season (you have to be on a team’s roster before September 1st to be eligible). Obviously, we were never going to re-sign him next year anyway, so it’s really a courtesy to a veteran who did a good job for us last year more than anything else.
What’s also of note is that you have to wonder if Danny Farquhar has had his last chance with this team. He had more of a meltdown than anyone not named Carson Smith on Saturday night, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) in the 10th (getting zero outs in the process), and was sent down to Tacoma as a reward. Obviously, he hasn’t been nearly as sharp this year as he was last year, and that’s yet another reason why this bullpen overall has suffered. I tend to be flummoxed a little bit at Lloyd’s usage of him, though. He seems to want to use him more as a long reliever, when Farquhar is probably better suited to be a late-inning set-up man, starting innings fresh more often than not. Lloyd likes to bring him into high-leverage situations with guys on base, and I don’t know if that’s the role for Farquhar. Also, 11 of his 30 appearances have seen Farquhar go more than 1 inning, which again probably isn’t his strongest suit. The longer a reliever pitches in a game, the higher the chances other teams are going to start teeing off. He also seems to be a guy Lloyd likes to over-use, not giving him enough off-days.
Some of that last paragraph is me trying to make excuses. Obviously, the guy needs to go out there and pitch and get the job done. He hasn’t, and that’s why he’s back in Tacoma yet again. He’s given up runs in 13 of his 30 games this year, which isn’t ideal. And, when he melts down, he tends REALLY melt down. He doesn’t throw hard, and when he misses with his cutter, he gets burned. But, I wonder where he’d be with more of a defined role. I contend, he’s never been one of Lloyd’s guys, and in 2014 Lloyd had no choice but to use him because he was amazing. As a result, I think Lloyd has over-used him in 2015, to Farquhar’s detriment, and now his career is in jeopardy.
Maybe a new manager and a fresh start next year will turn things around for Farquhar. As for Rodney, who knows where he’ll be or what he’ll be doing in 2016? All I know is, he won’t be here, and he most likely will be on a small, 1-year, incentive-laden, prove-it deal.