For those familiar with the career of Fernando Rodney, you likely spent all of 2012 waiting for the wheels to come off. They obviously never did as Rodney went on to set a new ERA record. What was so shocking about that season wasn't his microscopic 0.60 ERA, it was how he did it. Despite a career walk rate of 4.88 BB/9 entering the 2012 season, Rodney stumbled across some sort of wizardry that turned him into a comman pitcher as he walked just 1.81 BB/9 in 2012. That and an aberrant .220 BABIP allowed led to Rodney's magical season.
Well, it looks like the clock has struck midnight on that magic and Rodney is turning back into the pumpkin that allowed Tampa to scoop up Rodney for a mere $2 million after he unceremoniously lost his closer job in Anaheim and was subsequently run out of town on a rail the year before. The sample is small, but through 10.2 innings of work this season Rodney has seemingly reverted to the same player that the Halos couldn't wait to get rid of after 2011. He has already walked 9 batters, good for a 7.49 BB/9, after issuing just 15 free passes in all of 2012. His BABIP allowed has also rebounded back .276 which is a full 56 points more than 2012 but actually seven points below his career BABIP.
This isn't a case of one bad early season outing tainting either. Rodney has made 11 appearances this season and in just one of those games has he not allowed at least one walk or hit. He has also walked two batters in an outing three times already after doing so just twice in all of 2012. To his credit, Rodney is still missing bats at an increased rate, fanning 10.13 per nine this season which is actually better than his 2012 rate which itself was already above his normal strikeout rate for his career.
What this boils down to now is a basic Occam's Razor argument. Which is more believable: that Rodney became an elite closer at age 35 and is now just having a bad month or that 2012 Rodney was a fluke and Rodney is now reverting back to the same control-challenged reliever he had been every other season of his career? As the walks keep piling up, the answer is pretty obvious.
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