The Red Sox have decided to begin the second half of the season with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound in New York Friday night. He looks to improve his 8.59 ERA.
The Red Sox hit the All-Star break at 49-38 sitting two games behind Orioles and in second place in the AL East. Despite being eleven games over .500, their pitching has been subpar over the course of the first half and inconsistent at best. One of the culprits that has really struggled will get another chance to start the second half of the season. Eduardo Rodriguez will take the mound when Boston kicks things off after the break on Friday night in New York.
Rodriguez began the season on the disabled list after injuring his knee while shagging fly balls in spring training. He returned in late May and clearly didn’t look like the same pitcher that showed so much promise in 2015. In six starts in 2016, he has a 1-3 record and an 8.59 ERA with a 1.74 WHIP. Much was made of the fact that he was still in spring training mode after returning from the DL stint as well as the fact that he seemed to be tipping his pitches yet again.
After not being able to get through just three innings in Tampa on June 27th and giving up nine runs on eleven hits, Rodriguez was essentially demoted and sent down to Triple-A. Apparently after just two starts, including one that was shortened due to a rain delay, the Sox are willing to give Rodriguez another chance to prove he is ready to make the step in his development.
ESPN’s Scott Lauber discussed the move and what the Red Sox saw in those two starts for Pawtucket that led to the decision. He quotes John Farrell: “There’s been some adjustments made to his hand position. I think he’s, by all reports and watching video of him, it feels like and looks like he’s gained some comfort with the hand position that has been widely talked about. The required and needed adjustments have been made.” Well now, that’s pretty definitive. That could be another one of those statements that comes back to haunt John Farrell.
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So, why exactly would the Sox decide to jump immediately into the fire with E-Rod once the second half of the season begins on Friday? It probably has something to do with wanting to get as much as rest as possible for the likes of David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello – the only reliable arms the Red Sox have had in their rotation this season. If Boston is truly going to make a run and have a successful second half, they are going to need Price and Porcello to be even better and Wright to somehow maintain his amazing, career-best season. Perhaps this is the Sox coaching staff and brass taking as much of a precaution as possible in order to keep those three fresh. BoSox Injection’s Sean Penney discussed what the rotation will look as we enter head into July and August baseball.
The other possibility is that Dave Dombrowski, Mike Hazen and company understand that they are going to have to make a move before the trade deadline to acquire another starter, and they need to see Rodriguez at least one more time before making any final decisions. If Rodriguez can’t figure things out, they know that they’ll need to get a rather decent pitcher in return to go in the middle of their rotation. But perhaps Rodriguez does prove that he’s moved on from his pitch-tipping issues and can throw a slider again. If that’s the case, then Boston knows that they can look for more a back-end type of arm.
Is this the last chance for Eduardo? No, it can’t be. At age 23, he is way too young and far too talented to let less than ten starts in a season dictate the rest of his future. Dombrowski himself alluded to the fact that it will be difficult to find a starter on the trade market that is a better option than Rodriguez. But the next couple weeks will be crucial for the rest of his 2016. He either rights the ship, or he may be watching his teammates from home for a while.