Eduardo Rodriguez can provide the Red Sox with multiple pitching options
By Rick McNair
A healthy Eduardo Rodriguez can provide the Boston Red Sox with further rotation quality and other options for beyond the 2018 season.
Just how important is Eduardo Rodriguez? The talented 25-year-old left-hander may finally have resolved a balky knee situation that has lingered for the last two seasons. In 2017 E-Rod appeared to be on the cusp of an outstanding season and arguably was the second-best hurler on the staff by the end of May (4-1, 2.83). Then his annual visit to the disabled list until mid-July.
The remainder of the season would have the occasional moment of pitching brilliance, but the numbers slowly deteriorated to a 6-7 record and 4.19 ERA. For the season – 25 games – Rodriguez posted a 9.8 BB/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a post-season visit to the orthopedic surgeon. Rodriguez still accomplished an impressive 2.1 fWAR for his shortened season.
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There are issues of concern with Rodriguez and the most pronounced for me is a career 36.8 GB% and that means 19 home runs allowed in 2017 in just 137.1 innings. In 2016 the figure was 16 in 107 innings pitched. Too few ground balls and too many fly balls that find the seats.
Rodriguez has two impact points for the Red Sox – one is short-term and one is longer. The short-term is a healthy and productive E-Rod could be considered a number two level starter on most teams. That was demonstrated for two months in 2017. With pitchers always having a health question mark an E-Rod is a most valued commodity for the rotation.
The longer term is quickly approaching and that means the free agency of Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz – also a fragile lefty – would be looking at a substantial yearly increase over his current $8.5 MM provided his numbers approach 2017. Rodriguez is under team control until 2022.
The Red Sox will also face another potential pitching crunch following 2019. Rick Porcello will be available to bidders and if you wish to go to Tiffany’s level so will Chris Sale. Can the Red Sox afford both? Rodriguez – healthy and productive – provides a fallback option in case either or both leave. And never dismiss the possibility of a David Price opting out.
As the season moves forward a productive Rodriguez could also offer the potential for trade options with Pomeranz. You never have enough pitching, but a positive return from Steven Wright and continued development by Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson could put the Red Sox in a unique position of moving Pomeranz for patching up a positional or pitching hole elsewhere.
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With Rodriguez, you have a very high talent plateau and an equally high plateau of frustration. Too many failures, but each is followed by a reminder of just how good he is. By seasons end it would not surprise me to see E-Rod displaced David Price as the second-best lefty on the staff. Just keep your hands warm, Eduardo.