The Rays Tank: Running Low on Plantain Power

J. Meric

Fernando Rodney blew his fifth save of the season yesterday as the Yankees defeated the Rays 4-3.

Another Rays game, another blown lead in the ninth inning. The fifth of that variety this year, to be exact, the tenth blown lead after seven innings, and the 29th overall blown lead of the season. Awesome.

As I watched Fernando Rodney give up the lead yesterday, I couldn’t help but think back to my business management classes from college and one specific lesson that stuck out in my mind: biases.

Businessdictionary.com states that the anchoring bias is "the act of basing a judgment on a familiar reference point that is incomplete or irrelevant to the problem that is being solved. An example is when a consumer judges the relative value of a product or service from a company on the basis of the cost in some previous period of time. Or, an investor may judge that a stock price is overvalued or undervalued based on that stock's previous high share price."

Obviously everyone keeps bringing up Rodney’s 2012 record-breaking season and the mechanical adjustments he made to become that pitcher. People expect to see 2012 Rodney on the mound, but 2013 Rodney is nowhere near as effective.

2013 Fernando Rodney’s stats look like this, per ESPN.com: 19.1 innings pitched allowing 16 hits, 13 earned runs, walking 18 batters while striking out 26, with five blown saves and an ERA of 6.05. That’s certainly a lot higher than the .60 ERA of 2012 Rodney who only blew all of two saves the entire season.

As discussed earlier this month, and shown here in Jason Collette’s post at Baseball Prospectus, Rodney’s mechanics have been altered and this "foot tapping" has been introduced in 2013. The post shows a .gif of Rodney’s delivery in 2012, where he was sliding, rather than tapping his foot. Now here’s Brennan Boesch’s RBI double yesterday where you’ll see Rodney’s foot tap twice. And here’s Brett Gardner’s game-tying RBI single in which Rodney taps his foot once.

During the post-game press conference, Joe Maddon told reporters, "this has been awkward to watch…as long as Rodney does not lose confidence in himself, I will not lose confidence in him." He also mentioned that many times this season, Fernando has been "one pitch away from being pretty darn good." Sigh.

Rodney was not available for comment since he left the clubhouse yesterday without talking to the media.

Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune thinks that if/when Rodney is demoted, it most likely won’t be announced. I guess Maddon could always go back to last year where he spent the first half of the season tiptoeing around the word ‘closer’.

Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Roberto Hernandez did not take batting practice with the other Rays pitchers yesterday, but Maddon said that Hernandez is still set to start Wednesday’s game in Miami. We could also tie in the ‘sunk costs’ bias with Hernandez. Perhaps one more bad start for him and the Rays should just eat his salary and either call up another starter from Durham, or if Price is back soon enough, just keep Odorizzi in the rotation and either DFA or demote Hernandez to the bullpen.

Speaking of Price’s return, he talked to the media yesterday and said that there is no real timetable for his return just yet. Price is able to come off the DL as early as May 31st, but seeing as how he hasn’t started throwing again yet, I don’t think that date is very realistic at all.

The Rays face the Yankees again at 1:40 today as they try to avoid a sweep. Alex Cobb will take the mound against CC Sabathia.

Links:

-If you’re going to Monday’s Rays game against the Marlins at the Trop, you can get there early and watch the two team’s wives and girlfriends take part in the Citrus Classic at 1:00 PM. The Rays’ wives have been collecting pledges this weekend to benefit Autism Speaks and the Rays Baseball Foundation will be matching donations as well.

-Angel Pagan hit a walk-off inside the park two-run homerun yesterday and it was glorious.

-Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia claims that he didn’t know spitballs were illegal. Yeah, ok.

-Miguel Cabrera does not need you to throw strikes over the plate in order for him to hit a homerun, as demonstrated in this .gif from Drew Sheppard of Fangraphs.

-This was a really interesting read from Isobel Markham about female sports journalists and their looks. The article states, "That role [sideline reporter] is either filled by actual journalists," said espnW reporter Jane McManus, "or Miss Florida, who is, you know, an attractive young woman." Laura McKeeman actually knew what she was talking about so I’m not sure why the ‘Miss Florida’ comment was necessary.

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