What happened in 2014: Spent most of 2014 in Triple-A and/or hurt.
Paco Rodriguez was coming off a fantastic 2013 season, despite the rough end to it. He was all set to be one of the Dodgers’ left-handed relievers out of the bullpen (along with J.P. Howell). Daniel looked at what happened to him following the 2013 season.
“Since Rodriguez stated that he was fatigued at the end of the season, there’s a potential cause for the change in pitch movement. The decrease in movement led to the increase in hard contact and potentially the increased walk rate. Rodriguez’ pitch breaks nearly returned to normal in his two October appearances. The results didn’t follow the change, but it’s a lot easier to claim “small sample size” with eight plate appearances. Since fatigue can explain Rodriguez’ late-season results so well, there’s reason to be optimistic about his chances to rebound in 2014.”
He made a mechanical alteration to his delivery, which should have helped him. It’s hard to tell if it actually did, since he had limited MLB exposure in 2014 and pitched in a hitter’s haven in the Pacific Coast League. He began the 2014 season with the Dodgers, but he wasn’t around long. Because of options, he was sent to Triple-A after Brian Wilson‘s early season injury was resolved. In hindsight, that was probably a terrible mistake.
Rodriguez came back up at the end of April, but was optioned back to Triple-A a few days later. He was recalled in August, but ended up on the disabled list three days after due to a Teres Major injury (the same on Clayton Kershaw had after the Australia trip). He was on the DL for about a month before being activated. He only threw 3 2/3 innings in September, but I opined he should have been included on the postseason roster.
“Rodriguez has proven his worth, despite a late-season collapse in 2013. He hasn’t pitched much in the majors this season due to injury and general dumbness, but he’s been effective with the Dodgers this season. He has a “meh” 4.22 ERA, but his 1.90 FIP and 2.49 xFIP tell the real story (he also has a good K/9 and BB/9). He has only logged 10 2/3 innings in 14 games after he had 28 2/3 innings in 32 games at Triple-A Albuquerque. Because of that, he could be the freshest arm in the Dodger bullpen — provided he’s 100 percent healthy (and he appears to be).”
He didn’t make the roster, and it turns out he might not have been 100 percent healthy.
His velocity dipped noticeably after his return in September. His fastball/sinker velo was down 3-4 MPH, and his changeup was down almost 3 MPH. He could still be effective if he doesn’t throw hard, but there was no sense in risking further injury to him. Scott Elbert got the nod over him, and we all know what happened in the playoffs.
With a new front office and some dead weight gone from the bullpen, Rodriguez figures to have a great chance of making the opening day roster in the ‘pen.
2015 status: Pre-arbitration, meaning he’ll make the league minimum. He has one option remaining, so a trip to Oklahoma City isn’t out of the question. But, he should be in the MLB bullpen. He’s too good to waste him in Triple-A.