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Fernando Rodney, Dennis Eckersley are a perfect match

Sep 30, 2012, 8:25 PM EDT

Fernando Rodney Getty Images

One would be hard-pressed to find a pair of seasons more similar than these two:

4-2, 45 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 73/4 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP
2-2, 46 Sv, 5 ER, 9 R, 41 H, 2 HR, 74/15 K/BB in 73 1/3 IP

The first is Dennis Eckersley’s record-setting 1990 campaign with the A’s. The second is Fernando Rodney‘s 2012 with the Rays.

Even more amazing, both were 35 years old.

Of course, Eckersley and Rodney had wildly different careers leading up to their remarkably similar seasons. Eckersley was a top-notch starter for five years before alcohol problems contributed to an early decline. Seemingly on the verge of washing out of the league, he made the switch to relieving in 1987 and turned into a Hall of Famer. 1990 was his third conseuctive year as a top-flight closer.

Rodney was plucked off the scrap heap by the Rays last winter after amassing a 4.50 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in his final year with the Angels. He did have one very successful year as a closer in 2009, going 37-for-38 in save opportunities for the Tigers, but even then he had a 4.40 ERA. He entered 2012 with a lifetime ERA of 4.29.

Where Rodney goes from here is anyone’s guess. But he need only get one out without allowing a run in the Rays’ last three games to finish with the lowest ERA, minimum 50 innings, of any pitcher in major league history.

  1. raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Very cool. Even sweeter if it comes with an against the odds playoff run.

    • dondada10 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      The Rays are starting to get pretty good at those.

    • indaburg - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      It has been so much fun to watch Rodney evolve into an elite closer. Still holding out hope, huh? It would take a veritable miracle.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        While there is life, there is hope. –Cicero

        But yes, the Rays will need a lot of help.

  2. dawgpoundmember - Sep 30, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    thats a headline i thought i would never see

  3. Glenn - Sep 30, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Small sample size? His season innings total is equal to about six starts. Unless one racks up the totals year after year like Eckersley, Mariano, Fingers, etc., you can’t take it too seriously. Relievers are a crap shoot.

    • dondada10 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      73 innings in 6 starts? He must play for Dusty Baker.

    • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:17 PM

      Those would be six long starts.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:21 PM

        I get the point, though. Wouldn’t expect him to keep up this level of performance at all, but he’s always had good stuff at least and he is having a phenominal season in relief by any standard. Let’s just enjoy it.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      Yeah, such a crapshoot that exactly 2 pitchers have ever posted a 0.614 ERA over the course of a season with at least 50 innings pitched.

      • obpedmypants - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:14 PM

        Are you under the impression that something can’t be both rare and a crapshoot?

      • raysfan1 - Sep 30, 2012 at 11:43 PM

        No. Just too lazy to go into a big Occam’s razor thing on someone who is either just being contrarian or who himself does not understand scoreless streaks, while involving some good fortune, do not happen without a lot of skill. The feat is an amazing one and should not be denigrated lightly.

        Just being concrete about it, but there are only 36 combinations in craps and thus none are particularly rare.

    • Glenn - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:26 PM

      OK I muffed the math, but you get the point – relievers, especially closers, have a small sample size in any one season. Does his record suggest some supreme break through or a quirk of the small sample size?

    • Glenn - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:28 PM

      How much money are you putting down on Rodney next year? That’s what I thought.

  4. ch0psuey - Sep 30, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    The numbers are scary similiar besides the walks. Shows how good the Eck was.

    • Glenn - Oct 1, 2012 at 9:27 PM

      Exactly – he did it repeatedly.

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