The Tigers completed a three game sweep today, their third sweep in four series. In fact, the last four series have been sweeps, except one was us getting swept, so we won't talk about that. The Tigers are en fuego right now, winning six straight and playing good baseball in all facets of the game.
Fernando Rodney came in for the second straight game (night/day saves are cool) and picked up his 8th save of the year as the team's undisputed closer. He has yet to blow a save this year, when normally the Tigers closer (not to name names, Todd) would probably have a couple by now.
That begs the question: Is it time to stop referring to Rodney as the rollercoaster? Todd Jones may have a patent on that nickname anyway, but don't you think Rodney--in his first full season as closer, assuming he lasts the entire year--has done a good enough job to earn him the right to not have so many fans feel that unnerving "heart drop" when he comes into the games?
I know teams are meant to have good records when their 'closer' pitches, but the Tigers are 17-1 this season when Rodney pitches, which is more than you can say for Jonesy in the past 2 years who had his fair share of blown saves and losses in games he came in, even (or especially) when he wasn't in line for a save. The one game the Tigers lost this season when Rodney pitched was a 14-10 game where he came in to get some work and threw a perfect inning with a strikeout.
Sure, he's had some scary outings in years past (when his role wasn't as firm as it is now) and even this year as our closer he's not afraid to put a baserunner or three on. In fact, he had three rocky outings after starting the year with 5 perfect outings. He's recovered nicely since then, only allowing runs since then in a non-save situation victory about a week and a half ago. Today was no different as he put runners at the corners with one out, but induced a game ending double play.
Including today, he has thrown 18 innings, walked 5, allowed 14 hits and 7 runs, and sports a more than respectable 3.50 ERA. Hardly someone I would consider a rollercoaster closer. Papelbon's walked 5 more batters and allowed the same number of hits this season, but I doubt Bostonians call him "Heart Papeltations" on a nightly basis (see game a couple nights ago where he loaded the bases then K'ed the side).
I guess when you get tabbed as being a rocky pitcher, the nickname sticks. Don't get me wrong, I was one of the first ones on this ride (and I hate rollercoasters), but I'm willing to part ways with calling Rodney the rollercoaster and at least, come up with something original. I'm sure Todd Jones has no qualms with Rodney taking it from him, and it might even have a better ring to it being Rodney's nickname. Maybe it's just something that comes with the territory of being a Tigers closer from now on, but I don't like it.
It's time to get off the Rodney Rollercoaster Ride. Maybe try the water splash ride. Those are always fun.