Cubs trying to fix what went wrong with Fernando Rodney


Cubs trying to fix what went wrong with Fernando Rodney

LOS ANGELES – On the same day the Seattle Mariners fired general manager Jack Zduriencik, Fernando Rodney showed up in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.

“I really don’t know what happened this year,” Rodney said Friday. “They put a big team (together) to win and we didn’t start (fast). On paper, we were good. But when we went out to the field, it was a different team.”

The Cubs hope they can help Rodney rediscover what made him so dominant last season in Seattle, leading the majors with 48 saves and closing his final 21 chances to finish with a 94.1 percent conversion rate.

[MORE: Cubs building Joe Maddon's 'egoless' bullpen]

The Mariners designated Rodney for assignment this week after he put up a 5.68 ERA in 54 appearances, trading the 38-year-old right-hander to the Cubs on Thursday for a cash consideration.

“I know I have my stuff,” Rodney said, believing some of the issues could be traced back to not getting enough regular work on a non-contender. “That’s a little complicated for me.” 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon watched Rodney with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, when he made the American League All-Star team and showed up in the MVP and Cy Young voting. Rodney finished with 48 saves and a 0.60 ERA in 74-plus innings.   

“I’m eager to watch him play,” Maddon said. “I know that he did have some struggles this year. We did some research on it, so we were able to like drill in a little bit, try to figure out what the differences were, and we have some ideas.

“He had the most significant year of a relief pitcher ever when we had him in Tampa Bay.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Rodney is the next project for pitching coach Chris Bosio and bullpen coach Lester Strode as the Cubs deal with a rotation that isn’t throwing enough innings after Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta and a group of relievers on the disabled list (Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez and Rafael Soriano). 

This is a low-risk move that could lead to Rodney celebrating by shooting imaginary arrows into the Wrigleyville sky.

“I think it’s fun,” Maddon said. “Anybody that’s offended by it…when the game’s over, I go in the clubhouse. I don’t look at any of that stuff anyhow. Celebrate how you wish. None of that bothered me. I thought it was kind of entertaining.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull spoke with Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber after an electric and entertaining Home Run Derby in Washington D.C.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

With a break in the action, let’s take a look at the season so far.

Today, I’ll focus on the first 57.4% of the Cubs’ 2018 season. Which is to say, the 93 games before the All-Star Break. Clearly more than “half.”

In all seasons with an All-Star Game (1933-present, minus 1945)

This is the fifth time the Cubs have had the National League’s best record at the All-Star Break.

Here is the entire list (note – 2016 is NOT on this list. They trailed the Giants by 3 games at the Break in 2016):

1937 44-25 +2.0
1969 61-37 +5.0
2001 51-35 +0.5
2008 57-38 +4.5
2018 55-38 +2.5

Which is incredible since:

• Anthony Rizzo has a wRC+ of 100, which is league average

(he was at 131 – 31% better than league average - through the All-Star break last season)

• Kris Bryant has missed 23 games and has only 10 home runs

• The Cubs as a team have 30 fewer Home Runs through 93 games than they did last season

(100 this season, 130 last season)

• The Cubs have had six pitchers make 8 or more starts this season and only one (Jon Lester – 2.58) has an ERA under 3.90

• Cubs pitching has an MLBhigh walk percentage of 11.0%

(Tyler Chatwood’s 9 starts with 5 or more walks is most in a season by a Cubs pitcher since Dick Drott’s 13 in 1957)

• Cubs have outscored their opponents by only one run in the first inning (5251)

This includes being outscored 18-13 in the first inning in Kyle Hendricks’ 19 starts

• Cubs are 57 against the Reds

(they were 27-11 against Cincinnati in 2016-17)

That being said, it's not so incredible since...

• The Cubs have scored at least 10 runs 15 times this season. No other team has done it more than 12 times.

• Jason Heyward has a wRC+ of 109 (he’s 9% better than league average)

This is notable because in 2016 he was at 71 (29% worse than league average) and 88 in 2017 (12% worse than league average).

• The Cubs have EIGHT qualified players with at least a .340 OnBase pct. (and Ian Happ, who is eight PA short of qualifying, is at .379)

The only qualified Cub with a SUB-.340 OBP is Javier Báez (.326 – a career-high). However…

• Javier Báez has 50 extrabase hits in 91 games. Last season he had 49 extra-base hits in 145 games.

Báez is the first player in Cubs history with 15 Doubles, 5 Triples, 15 HR and 15 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

Báez is the first player in MLB history with 18 Doubles, 6 Triples, 18 HR and 18 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

**seasons with an All-Star Game – 1933-present (minus 1945)