Fernando Rodney faces tall order to repeat 'historic' success for Rays

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney had a historic season for a closer last year. What are his chances on repeating that success?

Last season, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Fernando Rodney set a Major League Baseball record for relievers (with a 50-innings pitched minimum) with a 0.61 ERA and recorded 48 saves. However, with some changes in the pitching staff for the Rays, not the least of which is the departure of James Shields, his chances of repeating that success may be low.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey right now does not expect Rodney to equal his success for the Rays, but he does think that Rodney will be effective yet again:

"My expectations are not that [Rodney is] going to repeat the 2012 season because that was an historic season," Hickey said. "Maybe the best relief season in the history of the game. So I don't expect him to do that. We talk about this all the time as well. I would be happy if you told me right now that Fernando would go out there and do the job that you send him out to do nine times out of 10.

The Rays' bullpen last season led the American league with an overall 2.88 ERA and held opposing batters to just a .208 batting average. Rodney, along with pitchers Jake McGee and Joel Peralta will be coming back for the Rays this season. The rest of the pen's status is up in the air because of free agency and other roster moves.

While Hickey says that people should temper their expectations of Rodney, he thinks what he could put up would still be good numbers:

"Because if this guy goes out and saves 42 out of 47 with a 1.80 ERA, it might sound kind of disappointing, but I think I'd sign up for that right now," Hickey said.

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