If not Balfour, what about Fernando Rodney as O’s closer?

At one time, the Orioles were looking for a closer and it seemed to be a buyer’s market. But now that is not the case, and after the failed Grant Balfour signing, it’s getting late in the process.

Following up on yesterday’s blog when I expressed concern about Tommy Hunter in the closer’s role considering his numbers against left-handed hitters, Fernando Rodney looks like the next best option available.

Rodney has had an interesting last two years for Tampa Bay. In 2012, he went 2-2 with an 0.60 ERA and .167 average against. He went 48-for-50 in save chances. Last summer, he went 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA and .211 average against. He went 37-for-45 in save chances.

Save percentage for the last two years:
92.5 - Grant Balfour at 62-for-67
89.5 - Fernando Rodney at 85-for-95
89.3 - Jim Johnson at 101-for-113

On paper, Rodney has the profile of a closer with a big strikeout rate (11.1 per nine innings last year), big fastball, decent groundball numbers and he keeps the ball in the ballpark, allowing just five homers over 141 2/3 innings the past two seasons. His fastball averages 96.5 mph and his changeup is excellent. It is quite a combination for him.

Rodney gets out left-handed batters, who hit .166 against him in 2012 and .248 last summer when he let them hit just one homer in 133 at-bats.

The walks are the big concern with Rodney. He averaged just 1.8 per nine innings during his great 2012 year but that was an outlier as he walked 4.9 per nine last year and has averaged 4.5 per nine during his career. Last season, Johnson averaged 2.3 walks per nine and Balfour was at 3.9.

Signing Rodney would allow the Orioles to keep their right-handed setup men in their current roles and increase their bullpen depth. He was clearly not their first choice, but the options are no longer plentiful.

Should the O’s get the deal done with Rodney?

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