Ex-major league relievers anchor indy Ducks' bullpen

 Francisco Rodriguez, who has collected 437 saves in parts of 16 major league seasons, is currently pitching with the independent Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks.

Francisco Rodriguez, who has collected 437 saves in parts of 16 major league seasons, is currently pitching with the independent Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks.

By Devon Teeple

The GM's Perspective

The Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League (ATL) are less than a quarter into their 2018 season, but the ex-MLB’ers brought in to anchor their bullpen are paying dividends already.

Vinnie Pestano has a career 2.98 ERA during his time at the big league level. The majority of his career was spent securing the backend of the “Bullpen Mafia” in Cleveland. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll and he has bounced around the minors since 2015.

Pestano regained the form that made him so reliable when he spent time with the ATL’s Bridgeport Bluefish in 2017 and that has carried over in to 2018.

In eight games so far, he’s been lights out. Surrendering one run in nine innings and racking up two saves, he’s the perfect compliment to their closer who could one day be in the Hall of Fame.

Francisco Rodriguez signed with the Ducks at the end of April and has been as advertised. After only five games, he’s second in the league with four saves.

K-Rod is a 16-year MLB vet who’s spent time with Los Angeles Angels (2002-08), New York Mets (2009-11), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-13, 2014-15), Baltimore Orioles (2013) and most recently, the Detroit Tigers (2016-17).

He’s a World Series champion(2002), six-time All-Star, and ranks fourth all-time in saves (437) behind Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith.

There’s no guarantee that Pestano or K-Rod will make it back, but there’s no doubt their performances, if consistent, will raise their profile.

Rodriguez was released by the Philadelphia Phillies before the end of Spring Training. The numbers just weren’t up to par, but the more he performs to the standards we all know he’s capable of, there's a better chance that his explosive slider could be seen around big league parks come the Midsummer Classic.

Devon Teeple

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com