It would come as no surprise if Price makes another All-Star team, but could a Red Sox staff that was one of the worst in the league last year end up with two starting pitchers being selected this year? If it happens then it will likely be because of a breakout year from Eduardo Rodriguez.
The 22-year old lefty had a promising debut season, going 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA, but those numbers undersell how dominant he is capable of being. Rodriguez’s ERA was inflated by four starts where he was shelled for 6+ runs. It’s not unusual for a young pitcher to suffer some inconsistencies, but the Red Sox also became concerned that tipping his pitches may have been the culprit behind some of those brutal outings. Once he ironed out those mechanical issues, Rodriguez began to look like a top of the rotation starter, posting a 2.08 ERA over his final seven starts.
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If Rodriguez does make the team, it’s notable that the All-Star Game is played in prime time. Last season he was 8-2 while leading the league with a 1.87 ERA in night games (minimum 60 innings pitched). The All-Star Game is about letting the brightest stars shine and no AL pitcher performed better under the lights than Rodriguez.
Last season the AL team’s staff was made up of seven starters and seven relievers. While there are no rules dictating that there must be an equal number of starters and relievers (the NL team had ten starters), we should expect there will be a similar split. Rodriguez would likely need to be at least one of the ten best starters in the league to warrant consideration.
Is it a stretch to think that Rodriguez is ready to be a top-10 pitcher? Well consider this – as a rookie last year he posted a 2.5 WAR in 121.2 innings, putting him just outside the top-20 among starters. Only Clay Buchholz (2.7 WAR) was worth more among AL starting pitchers while pitching fewer innings than Rodriguez. Extrapolate that value over a full season’s workload and Rodriguez would have been on the verge of the top 10.
If Rodriguez is able to build on his promising rookie season then it’s conceivable that he could earn a spot on the All-Star team.
Next: Mookie Betts