Closing Time in Baltimore: K-Rod is the man for the job

July 23, 2013 | Barry Kamen

Francisco Rodriguez is a Baltimore Oriole. Those words are still sinking in, as the Orioles acquired the Brewers closer for corner infield prospect Nick Delmonico earlier this evening. As a fan, my first move was to to check out Rodriguez’s stats so far this season. Were the Orioles getting a shadow of the guy who saved 62 games in 2008? Or was there something left in the tank? The verdict: 24.2 innings of work, an ERA of 1.09, a WHIP of 1.05, and 10 saves (out of 10 opportunities) for the last-place Brewers. He also held opponents to a .198 batting average.

Judging by the numbers, Rodriguez still has the stuff to be a closer in the Major Leagues. Here in Baltimore, we could use a guy who wastes little time in getting 3 outs in the bottom of the 9th. While Jim Johnson’s 86 saves over the past year and a half speak for themselves, he simply is not the elite closer that he was last season. Both Johnson and Rodriguez have experience as set-up men: Johnson for George Sherrill and Rodriguez for Troy Percival in Anaheim and John Axford in Milwaukee. Whatever the case may be, the Orioles late-inning worries just went down significantly.

Not to be lost in all of this is just how coveted K-Rod was. According to the Bleacher Report (bit.ly/161RcNq), the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Los Angeles Dodgers were all interested in acquiring Rodriguez for their respective pennant races. That alone is what makes this trade a win for the Orioles: Rodriguez won’t be terrorizing Orioles hitters in September and October. In terms of late-inning relievers on the market, Rodriguez was the guy. Teams like Boston and Detroit will have to work even harder now to find competent arms, and overpay for those arms in the process. The Orioles surrendered their fifth-best prospect, who was hitting .244 for the Frederick Keys. At this moment in time, K-Rod in orange and black is a HUGE get for a team that desperately needed another quality bullpen arm. How Buck Showalter chooses to play his cards is something every Orioles fan will be watching…

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