ST. PETERSBURG -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia said all the right things when defending Fernando Rodney after Saturday night's 4-3 loss, but Rodney's performance since taking over as the closer indicates that the team may have another issue to address this offseason.
Rodney, who was given the job after Brian Fuentes was traded to the Twins last month, gave up three straight two-out singles in the ninth inning, opening the door for the Rays to come back and win. The right-hander has recorded five saves in 11 appearances since the Angels dealt Fuentes, but he also has three blown saves and a loss with a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings.
"We have a lot of confidence in Fernando," Scioscia said after the game. "One got away tonight, unfortunately, but we're comfortable with the guys out there to hold leads. It's just not going to happen all the time.
"We talk about command being important to any pitcher, and it's certainly important to Fernando. When he's been in the zone and able to bring all his pitches into a game, he's pitched very well. He's gone long stretches and done a great job for us."
Rodney's September struggles are nothing new for him, as he posted an 8.00 ERA with 23 hits and 14 walks in 18 innings last September. Scioscia said there hasn't been anything to indicate that Rodney is tired, as the life on his fastball and changeup is still as good as it's been all season.
His closer's struggles aside, Scioscia said he is happy with the bullpen depth that has emerged as the season has progressed, and any concerns about who will be closing out games for the Angels in 2011 will have to wait until the offseason.
"Let's wait to get to next year. We're scrapping and clawing to play well right now, and that's where our focus is going to be," Scioscia said. "Those guys -- [Jordan] Walden, [Kevin] Jepsen and Rodney -- are all important to us right now in the back end of our pen, and hopefully we'll settle in and close these games out."