No pitcher has appeared in more World Baseball Classic games this spring than Fernando Rodney, who has pitched in all six games for the Dominican Republic. His workload raises questions about whether Rodney is being overused, and if his national team manager even cares.
The most blatant example of Rodney being overused came on Saturday, when Rodney was asked to close what was essentially a meaningless game. The Dominican Republic was already guaranteed a spot in the semifinals, and the game was only being played to determine seeding, which is nearly meaningless in a 4-team scenario that is just one-and-done.
Complicating matters is the manager of the Dominican squad, Tony Pena. Pena also happens to be the bench coach for the New York Yankees.
Certainly Pena doesn’t want to injure Rodney. But it is hard to believe, that with the all-star nature of these rosters, that Pena couldn’t find another pitcher to close on Saturday. And one team that would benefit from an overused Rodney is the Yankees.
Last year in spring training, Rodney appeared in eight games and threw a total of 7.1 innings before going on to have one of the best seasons by a reliever in MLB history. This spring, between the Rays and the WBC, Rodney has already thrown 8.1 innings with potentially two games left to play in the WBC and two more weeks of spring training.
On top of that, he is throwing at max effort earlier in the spring than would be considered normal. And he is consistently being used on shorter rest than he would receive if he were working with the Rays.
Maddon will limit Rodney’s use after he returns to the club. And while Rodney has looked good in the WBC, there is a real concern about having to shut a pitcher down and then ramp him back up when the season starts.
The result is, when the regular season starts, there will probably nights that Rodney is unavailable during games that count. And that will be because he was overused in games that didn’t count.