In a bleak 2019 season for the Red Sox headlined by underwhelming pitching, Eduardo Rodriguez was a pleasantly surprising diamond in the rough. With Chris Sale and David Price in the starting rotation, no one envisioned the Venezuelan lefty to be the best on the staff. Yet, he finally achieved his full potential in 2019.
A Rough Start
Just like most players on the team, Eduardo Rodriguez endured a slight World Series hangover. His first two starts consisted of a combined 8.0 innings, 16 hits, 6 walks, and 11 earned runs. But then, unlike some of his teammates, he seemingly bounced back. In his next six starts, he compiled a 2.78 ERA, .601 OPS against, and 4.33 K/BB ratio. Unfortunately though, he failed to stay consistent, and was a rollercoaster ride from mid-May through June.
Becoming a No. 1
After June, Rodriguez sat with an underwhelming 4.79 ERA. It was very disappointing to Red Sox fans that when there were finally no injury problems with him, they still could not trust him to be a consistent pitcher. Luckily, this narrative was able to change over the course of the next three months. From July on, the southpaw tossed 105.2 innings with a 2.90 ERA. In his 17 starts in that time period, the Red Sox went 14-3. Rodriguez’s 105.2 innings pitched also ranked 3rd in the American League for that time period, and his 2.90 ERA ranked 4th (min. 60 IP).
After not being able to eclipse 137.1 innings pitched in his four seasons in the Majors, he ended up throwing 203.1 innings, which ranked 6th in the American League. Rodriguez’s 6.0 bWAR was a career-high as well, and ranked 5th in the AL.
There were a few things that made this year different for Eduardo Rodriguez. The biggest difference was him pitching a complete season. But, there was also a change in approach that made him more consistent. His ground ball rate went from 38.7% in 2018 to 48.5% this year. This ability to keep the ball down in the zone resulted in softer contact. His hard-hit rate went from 32.7% to 28.5%, and his barrel rate went from 6.7% to 5.9%. Rodriguez’s hard-hit rate ranked in the top 4% of Major League Baseball in 2019.
It is safe to say that Red Sox fans are satisfied with how he performed this past year. Now, the challenge for the traditionally inconsistent left-hander is to repeat this performance, or perhaps be better next season.
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (Source: Getty Images)