Who Is This Man and What Has He Done with Fernando Rodney?

Charles ClintonCorrespondent IApril 12, 2009

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Fernando Rodney of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Photo Day on February 23, 2008 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

For the past two years, the anxiety over the position of closing pitcher for the Detroit Tigers has been enormous.  A big reason for that is Fernando Rodney, who has been with the team since his rookie year in 2002. He has been noted for his remarkable inconsistency ever since helping the team to a World Series appearance in 2006.  

Last season, with Todd Jones being on the verge of retirement and Joel Zumaya on the disabled list for much of the year, manager Jim Leyland had Rodney try his role as the successor to Jones.  His stat line speaks for itself; 0-6 W-L, 13-19 save opp, and a staggeringly high 4.91 ERA.

For the last two seasons, the bullpen has been labeled as the biggest problem the Tigers have, and Rodney has been the chief example, with an over four ERA the past two seasons.  He also has the unfortunate distinction of committing a costly error in the World Series that helped cost the Tigers a game.

So why is he all of a sudden doing well?

Today, Rodney got his second save in as many opportunities against the Texas Rangers, and in three appearances he has yet to give up a run.  While in the games he has appeared, he's gotten a boost from the offense, it's remarkable that he hasn't given up a run in his first three appearances, and I hope I didn't jinx him.  If he can keep this up, it would be a welcome change from the roller coaster of agony that was Todd Jones. 

This should be taken with a grain of salt; the two series the Tigers have played so far were against Toronto and Texas, respectively. Neither of whom has done much recently or is expected to do much this year.  The real test will be coming up tomorrow, as the Tigers take on division rivals the Chicago White Sox. Hopefully, the bats will stay hot, as they've averaged nearly six runs a game so far, and Rodney will be able to make White Sox hitters feel ice cold.