Never count out Fernando Rodney.
After being released by the Oakland Athletics on May 28, many believed we’d seen the 42-year-old reliever’s last bow-and-arrow celebration on a major league field.
Exactly one month later, those doubters were proven wrong.
Rodney, now with the Washington Nationals, pitched a perfect ninth inning Friday night to secure a 3-1 win against the Detroit Tigers and earn his 326th career save.
In the process, he also made MLB history. And yes, he celebrated it all with a bow and arrow.
Rodney ties obscure saves record
The Nationals are the 11th different major league team Rodney has pitched for in his 17-year career. More notably, they are the ninth different team he’s earned a save for. That ties an MLB record shared by well-traveled Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and Octavio Dotel.
Per @EliasSports, Rodney saving a game for 9 different teams ties Goose Gossage and (who else) Octavio Dotel for the all-time record.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 29, 2019
Breaking it down further, no pitcher has notched multiple saves with more teams than Rodney. He’s recorded at least two saves with eight teams. Gossage only did it with six, while Dotel did it with five.
In a fitting twist, Rodney’s first career save also came at Comerica Park as a member of the Tigers. You could say his career came full circle on Friday, though Rodney clearly feels it’s far from complete.
New life in Washington
In 14 1/3 innings for Oakland this season, Rodney allowed 15 earned runs on 20 hits while issuing 12 walks. The numbers were brutal, but not too brutal for a Nationals team that was desperate for relief pitching.
The Nationals signed Rodney to a minor-league deal on June 4. He was promoted on June 25 after the team released Trevor Rosenthal and his 22.74 ERA.
Entering play Friday, Washington relievers owned a league worst 6.35 ERA. That says all you need to know about the Nationals predicament.
Rodney will not be the team’s primary closer. He was simply filling in for Sean Doolittle. But the hope is that he’ll represent a late-inning upgrade as the team attempts to dig out of its early season hole.
Back over .500
The Nationals are making good progress in that regard. For the first time since April 18, they are over .500 at 41-40.
On May 23, they were a season-worst 12 games under .500 and 10 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East standings.
They're now 1 1/2 behind Philadelphia with a chance to pass them this weekend.
The Nationals are still seven games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place. But are certainly back in contention there and in the Wild Card race. Rodney and the bullpen will undoubtedly have a major say in whether they'll stay there.
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