Boston Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez had a rough month of May
Eduardo Rodriguez appeared poised for a dramatic comeback story when he won his first four starts to open the season but the bounce-back campaign turned into a nightmare in May for the Boston Red Sox starter.
Boston lost five of the six games started by Rodriguez last month and the lefty was tagged with the loss in each of his last four appearances. He was 4-0 entering the month and the Red Sox had won 49 of his last 61 starts dating back to 2018.
Rodriguez posted a brutal 7.28 ERA in 29 2/3 innings over his six starts in May, the worst ERA he has posted in a single month in his major league career.
The worst was saved for last as Rodriguez wrapped up the month by getting shelled for a season-high six earned runs in a loss to the Houston Astros.
As discouraging as the results were, there are some positives we can take away from his latest dismal performance. There’s no sugarcoating that this was a poor performance but it wasn’t quite as bad as the boxscore makes it seem.
Rodriguez allowed three consecutive singles to begin the second inning but not all of them were hit hard, with the third hit recording an exit velocity of only 77.5 mph. The Astros scored on a sac fly with the bases loaded before a double play ended the inning.
Normally, a run doesn’t score when the inning ends on a double play but in this case, the initial out was recorded at first base, turning the next out into a tag play instead of a force out at second. The Red Sox might not have had time to turn two the old-fashioned way but the order in which they recorded the outs still cost them a run despite that Rodriguez got the ground ball he needed.
Jose Altuve hooked a ball down the left field line in the third inning on the ugliest home run swing you’ll ever see. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and into to Crawford Boxes at an estimated 330 feet. Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field is the only ballpark in the majors outside of Houston where that ball is a home run. The two-run homer had an expected batting average of .080, per Baseball Savant. Rodriguez was charged with two more runs but there’s obviously some bad luck working against him in this case.
Rodriguez was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning after allowing a walk and a single. Colten Brewer walked the first batter he faced to load the bases and allowed a pair of inherited runs to score on a Kyle Tucker single. The runs were charged to Rodriguez and the blame can be pinned on him for putting those runners on base to begin with. In the starter’s defense though, Brewer isn’t a viable major league reliever and a more dependable option conceivably escapes the inning without allowing further damage.
Some progress has been made on concerns that plagued Rodriguez in previous starts. His velocity has been improving, sitting around 93-94 mph with the fastball that topped 94 on a few occasions. His cutter was arguably the best he’s thrown this season. It had looked flat in recent outings and opponents were hitting .429 against the pitch entering the game.
While Rodriguez showed improvement with those two key pitches, his changeup failed him against the Astros. He struggled with the command and gave up three of his seven hits on the changeup, including the homer to Altuve.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Rodriguez struggled to put it all together last month but he continues to make adjustments and doesn’t seem too far away from figuring it out. The strong stretch of starts to open the season mitigates the concern that Rodriguez isn’t the same pitcher anymore after sitting out an entire season to recover from myocarditis. He’s simply in a slump. As frustrating as it has been, it’s not a permanent problem and Rodriguez is more than capable of getting back on track.