Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez is returning to form on the mound
The looming trade deadline will inevitably create an arms race with contenders loading up for a potential playoff run. One of the biggest upgrades the Boston Red Sox can make won’t require giving up any assets in a deal though. They simply need Eduardo Rodriguez to solidify their rotation by pitching to his capabilities.
Based on recent results, it appears the lefty has regained the form that once had the fan base praising him as Eddie Aces. Rodriguez had his best start of the season on Friday in Oakland, holding the A’s scoreless over six innings. He walked a pair but only allowed one hit and struck out six.
Rodriguez cruised through six frames with an efficient 89 pitches. While some might question manager Alex Cora’s decision to pull his starter during a dominant outing with a modest pitch count, it was clear that the team had a game plan to hold E-Rod to six innings with Garrett Whitlock prepared to follow for multiple innings.
Rodriguez has pitched more than six innings only once all season, a seven-inning effort back in April. He’s only topped 100 pitches twice and those instances came in two of his worst starts of the season where he failed to make it through five innings.
It’s clear the Red Sox are being cautious with a pitcher who missed the entire 2020 season due to a serious heart condition. There was no need to push him and Cora wanted to get him out of the game while his confidence was high.
E-Rod should be feeling good about his recent performances. The lefty has now strung together three consecutive quality starts, lasting six innings in each while allowing no more than three runs in any of them. He owns a 2.50 ERA and has struck out 21 batters with only three walks over those 18 innings and the Red Sox won all three games.
A rare blown save from closer Matt Barnes cost Rodriguez his seventh win of the season. Boston would battle back to win in extra-innings but E-Rod wouldn’t get credit for the victory.
It’s been a strange season for Rodriguez. He earned the win in each of his four starts in April while producing a strong 3.52 ERA. He fell apart in May, posting a brutal 7.28 ERA over six starts and taking the loss in four consecutive games that month.
Rodriguez has slowly recovered from that rough patch but has still only tallied two wins since April. Even if he didn’t notch the victory for his own record, the Red Sox have won the last six games that Rodriguez has started and they are 11-5 this season when he takes the mound.
His win-loss record clearly doesn’t tell the full story and his ERA is just as misleading. A quick glance at his 5.42 ERA would lead you to believe he’s having a terrible season but Rodriguez has pitched much better than this figure suggests. His 3.48 FIP and 3.38 xERA are far better than his bloated ERA. Rodriguez owns a 10.52 K/9 and 2.23 BB/9, both of which would be the best of his career.
Rodriguez was due for some positive regression and the results are starting to catch up to his ability. While he was never really as bad as the ERA leads us to believe, there is a notable improvement in how well Rodriguez has thrown the ball over his last few starts. The velocity on his fastball is up a tick from earlier this year – it’s hardly surprising that it took time to get that extra zip back after missing a season. The added velocity helps set up his changeup, arguably his best pitch, which now looks as good as it has all year.
The Red Sox rotation has exceeded expectations but they are still in need of a true front-line starter to lead them. Rodriguez is capable of filling that role if he returns to the level we saw in 2019. A few weeks ago, it appeared that pitcher was long gone. From what we’ve seen over the last few starts, Eddie Aces is back.