Is Rodney tipping his pitches?
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Monday that former closer Fernando Rodney, who allowed four home runs over his last eight appearances, may have been tipping his pitches.
The long ball has bitten Rodney in a big way. He's allowed eight home runs in 39 2/3 innings this year, compared to eight over 207 2/3 innings his previous three seasons combined. Rodney lost the closer's role to rookie Carson Smith in early June and pitched well as a setup man for a stretch, but has seen his ERA rise to 5.90 and suffered his fifth blown save of the season on a two-run homer to Toronto's Ezequiel Carrera in his last outing, on Saturday.
Rodney continues to throw the ball in the upper 90s, but has struggled much of the year after saving a Major League-leading 48 games last season while recording a 2.85 ERA.
"I really don't think it's fastball command," McClendon said. "I think Fernando was tipping some pitches and we've got to get that straightened out and get him to the point where he's not tipping anymore. Then I think you'll see him getting back to being productive again. When hitters know what's coming, it's a lot easier."
Rodney, 38, said he worked on some things in the bullpen on Sunday and will continue to iron out his delivery. He said opposing hitters seem to be lining up his fastball more than normal, but he's not sure why.
"The last three games I threw a lot of changeups for strikes and swing and misses," Rodney said. "It's different things, different approaches by Toronto, Detroit, the Yankees. When they face a pitcher they know, they try to find something.
"Some people say [I'm tipping]. Some people say they got the sign," he said. "I'll just keep trying and working. We'll get it figured out."
Rodney has been in the big leagues for 13 years, long enough to have gone through a lot of ups and downs as a reliever. He said his arm feels fine and his velocity has been strong, despite the results.
"I feel good," he said. "Maybe I feel a little location of the fastball, sometimes it stays in the middle. But I don't panic. If it's something I have to work out, I'm going to do it to get better. But I feel good. I'll just keep working."