Who needs Chris Sale when you’ve got Eduardo Rodrigez on your staff?
Okay, obviously that’s tongue in cheek, but Eduardo Rodriguez has continued this phenomenal stretch he’s been on since the middle portion of the summer and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
On Saturday night, the 26-year-old lefty and at the start of the season at least, fourth man in the rotation, put on another stellar performance against a team who is vying for a Wild Card spot while the Red Sox obviously at this point are just playing the spoiler role.
Saturday’s performance saw Rodriguez battle through 6.2 IP surrendering 4 H and 1 ER. And until things began to unravel, he was seemingly unhittable to the Philly bats and was cruising from inning to inning with ease bringing himself just one out away from a seven-inning shutout.
E-Rod’s been settled in since the end of June when he put up a two-run performance against the Yankees at Fenway. It was one of the few strong outings against the New York juggernaut offense this year by a Boston arm, and it appeared to be a small catapult for him as the season entered the summer months.
Since joining the Red Sox Major League roster in 2015, there’s been one, continuous pattern that we’ve seen from Rodriguez, year in and year out. The lack of consistency has been the most infuriating aspect of his tenure at the big league level. He’d go through stretches such as this current one where he appears as though he could easily hold down a number two slot in almost any rotation. And with the way that he’s throwing the ball right now, that’s exactly the case. But on the flip side of his dominating stints, comes games where he’s unbearable to watch. Missing location, and serving up great changeups that are essentially on a tee, giving the opposing hitter the perfect pitch to drive onto Landsdowne Street.
From the early parts of the season to late June, Rodriguez’s ERA sat at 4.87. He, much like his four partners in the rotation, became one of the biggest faults of this team looking to defend their championship. It wasn’t just him though, as the entire rotation, for the most part, needed a reality check right down to their top gun, Chris Sale.
But within these 15 starts since that June 30th start, he’s been locked in, allowing three or more earned runs just three times in 93.0 IP.
And more recently over his last five trips to the mound, he’s managed to put up even stronger numbers. In those starts, he’s posted a 1.11 ERA with 4 ER in 32.1 IP–per the Red Sox team notes.
One of the Red Sox key problems throughout this dreadful season stemmed from the starting rotation not coming remotely close to reaching expectation. The now unemployed Dave Dombrowski built a starting five that on paper, looked formidable. Alex Cora had a one through five to work with that would have been attractive to almost any organization in baseball.
And yes, they did get riddled with injury. Chris Sale went down for the season with left elbow inflammation that was almost the cause of heart attacks throughout the Boston area. David Price saw a wrist injury that’s prevented him from making his way back to the mound for a majority of August. And Nathan Eovaldi missed time from mid-April through late July after he needed to have an elbow procedure. But even when healthy, the rotation in and of itself was more of a detriment rather than a positive.
With all of this chaos taking place around him, Rodriguez managed to keep his cool and take on the role as the Red Sox most consistent and reliable pitcher.
Who knows what this rotation is going to look like in 2020. Frankly, that’s what Red Sox fans should start counting down to. We should start looking ahead and think about who might fill the hole that will be, or should be, left when Rick Porcello inevitably signs elsewhere. But the success that Rodriguez has seen since the end of June should really encourage the fanbase of what could be coming down the pipeline with this rotation.
Let’s just hope that this time, this Eduardo Rodriguez rolls over into next season because there’s been no question that he’s turned into the team’s ace for this single season. Because if he does, you have your third man already on staff which will make filling that back end of the rotation spot that much easier.
His changeup was devastating last night and he was hitting location. If your attention is still on the Red Sox even with the start of football season here in New England, look forward to his upcoming starts. It’s been one of the great aspects of a season that feels like it’ll never end.