Why Rodney in the 8th
That question came up after the Royals’ three-run eighth inning off Fernando Rodney, providing the Royals the margin to make the Tigers’ ninth-inning rally irrelevant and further ballooning Rodney’s numbers in non-save situations. Manager Jim Leyland pointed to two things: Rodney hadn’t pitched since Friday, and with a three-game suspension looming, there’s a chance Rodney won’t pitch for a few days down the road. Whether that means Rodney is going to take a suspension anytime soon isn’t clear.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen with this suspension,” Leyland said, “and you can’t let him sit there too long. Because if all of a sudden there’s a hearing on the appeal and they don’t drop some [games], he could go a long time without pitching.”
With that in mind, and with the Tigers on the road, Leyland switched his reliever roles for a day. Rodney was going to pitch the eighth inning, win or lose, and if the Tigers headed into the ninth inning with a lead, Brandon Lyon would be the closer for a day. It was a temporary shift, Leyland emphasized, not something long term.
There’s one major consideration to keep in mind when debating whether those add-on runs off Rodney cost them the game. Without them, Joakim Soria would’ve started the ninth inning instead of coming in after Jamey Wright loaded the bases.
“It’s good Fernando got back out there,” Leyland said. “I hope we have a chance to have him save the game tomorrow.”