Remember the Fernando Rodney Shift from last year? Rodney's drastic transition in his positioning on the rubber coming into the 2012 season proved to pay dividends during his incredible year.
Rodney pushed off the rubber from around the middle of the mound (actually a bit towards the third base side) for his entire career up until joining the Rays. With Tampa Bay last season, he shifted all the way to the left side of the rubber.
Courtesy of BaseballProspectus.com
Has Rodney drifted away from his 2012 rubber position? It appeared that way last night during his blown save against the Orioles. Here's a couple of looks below of him in winding up against the right-handed Nolan Reimold and the lefty-swinging Brian Roberts. I wanted to add additional snapshots of Rodney in the World Baseball Classic, but MLB Network's camera angle made it hard for me to differentiate any changes from the past season.
The difference between last night and last year is pretty clear. PITCHF/x data from BrooksBaseball.net confirms this change:
However, as you can see, Rodney's horizontal release point is still farther to the first base side than he was in his pre-Rays years.
Often times, adjustments like these are of no significance, but after what we saw last season, this could be something to keep an eye on. Although positioning on the pitching rubber is just one factor, his huge mound shift and massive success in 2012 was no coincidence.
Rodney's 57.9 groundball percentage and 1.81 BB/9 rate can support that claim. It will interesting to see if he'll continue to push off the rubber from the same location as Wednesday night and if he does how will it affect his fantastic command.