Chicago Cubs: Fernando Rodney has been a key contributor


Since joining the Chicago Cubs, right-hander Fernando Rodney has been lights-out for skipper Joe Maddon, bringing some stability to the team’s bullpen.

“Is his head on crooked? Wait, no. That’s the hat, right?”

I kid you not, at a game earlier this season, I heard a kid ask his mom and dad this question when Rodney came out of the pen. And you know what, he’s just voicing my inner dialogue.

God, I hate that crooked hat. I hated when the Cubs went out and picked up the former Tampa Bay and Seattle closer late this season – but you know what, I’m man enough to just fess up and admit when I was wrong: so very, very wrong.

When Rodney joined the Cubs, he had a 5.68 ERA, 1.500 WHIP and 1.72 SO/BB mark in 50-plus innings of work this year. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Sure, the guy was one of the best relievers in the game last season with the M’s, racking up 48 saves and finishing out 64 contests – but something was different.

But, lo and behold, the magic of Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio is on full-display yet-again.

In 10 1/3 innings of work spanning a dozen appearances on the North Side, Rodney has pitched to a sterling 0.87 earned run average. But there’s really only one number I’m looking at after watching him implode with Seattle earlier this season: his strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The aging veteran, whose SO/BB mark was below two during the first two-thirds of the season with the Mariners, has seen that number skyrocket to 4.77 with the Cubs – evidence that he’s locating his pitches well and limiting the self-inflicted damage, which is why he’s been so successful in his big league career.

So while it may not be popular to like Fernando Rodney, given his bow-and-arrow antics and crooked hat, make no mistake: the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen is better off with him included and he’s going to play a key role as a mentor to the team’s young hurlers down in the pen come October.

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