In the Dodgers’ six games since the last starting pitcher post I wrote, they have managed to go 3-3 against the Rangers and Blue Jays. Part of the reason for the .500 record?
With Clayton Kershaw hurt, the rotation currently includes Julio Urias typically reaching 5 or 6 innings, Tony Gonsolin essentially averaging and capped at 5 innings, Bobby Miller ranging from 4 to 6 innings in his 10 starts, Emmet Sheehan laboring to reach 5 after his first two starts and Michael Grove a bit all over the place even if his four July appearances have been drastically better than April or June.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez has pitched 5 or more innings in 12 of his 15 starts, with two others finishing at 4 2/3 innings. Just four of those starts have come with four or more runs allowed, with every start of at least 5 1/3 innings including three or fewer runs allowed.
- Jordan Montgomery (July 19)
- Brent Rooker (July 20)
- Teoscar Hernandez (July 23)
Lucas Giolito (July 25)– Traded To Angels
- Nolan Arenado (July 27)
- Joe Kelly, Jordan Hicks, Paul Sewald, Mark Leiter Jr. (July 27)
After signing a 5-year, $77 million contract with Detroit in November 2021, Rodriguez only pitched 91 innings in 2022 but has bounced back with his second-best K-BB%, his best ERA, best FIP and best HR/FB% of his career.
First, here’s a blind comparison between a few of the available starters on the trade market this year:
Thanks to Josh for doing this first so I could steal the idea now.
The topic of this post, with Rodriguez as Pitcher D, actually has the the third-best K%, the best ERA, the best xERA, the best FIP and the best DRA of the group. Pitcher A, who came in at 4th/4th/6th/7th/4th in the categories just cost the Anaheim Angels their No. 2 and No. 3 prospects, even if Lucas Giolito did come in a package with Reynaldo Lopez.
Rodriguez’s teammate, Michael Lorenzen, may also be an option for the Dodgers and ranks 8th/3rd/5th/5th/5th in the categories as Pitcher H, which feels really not that far off from Giolito in the categories selected. Jordan Montgomery, who I already covered, is 7th/2nd/4th/2nd/6th as Pitcher B, and his teammate Jack Flaherty is 6th/7th/7th/6th/8th on here as Pitcher F, and somehow is in the range of Lance Lynn‘s 2nd/8th/8th/8th/7th at Pitcher G. Dylan Cease, who would cost the most of any option given his remaining arbitration years, is Pitcher E that ranks 1st/5th/3rd/3rd/3rd, and Bobby Miller is Pitcher C ranking 5th/6th/2nd/4th/2nd on the list, just because it was pretty funny to compare him to what is available.
Anyway, it’s a long way of showing Rodriguez might actually be the prize of this deadline even if it’s not frequently talked about like that’s the case.
While Rodriguez’s K% and Whiff% are not as high as they were at his peak in Boston, the BB% is the best of his career, which has come with the decrease in home runs allowed. Rodriguez is also striking out batters on both sides of the plate at a nearly identical rate, with 25.9% to right-handed hitters and 25.6% to left-handed hitters. Lefties are actually slashing just .160/.222/.293/.515 in 82 PAs, while right-handed batters are .233/.278/.345/.623. That’s with lefties walking more often at 7.3% to 5.6%, but the .189 BABIP has led to the low batting average.
Throwing five pitches in total, the four-seamer is the primary pitch to batters on both sides of the plate for Rodriguez. He mainly opts for the sinker (23.2%) and slider (20.3%) to lefties, with the latter of the two producing a 40.0 Whiff%. Naturally, Rodriguez makes the switch to the cutter (25.6%) and change (23.9%) for right-handed batters, with the latter the best swing and miss pitch at 33.6 Whiff%.
Since easing back from the 94 to 95 mph four-seamers early in his career, Rodriguez has hung around 92 and 93 mph for both the fastball and sinker. The cutter has steadily been 88 for five years, and his change is right in the middle of the 86 to 88 range throughout his career. The slider’s bump up from 82.8 mph to 84.9 mph between 2022 and 2023 led to a small decrease in break both directions, while also swapping in as the primary third pitch to left-handed batters.
In terms of where those pitches rank themselves, Rodriguez is actually only at 84 for Stuff+, while sitting 105 in Location+. Among pitchers with at least 80 innings this season, those rank 89th and tied for 10th of the 98 pitchers meeting the requirement. The slider’s 106 mark is the highest of his pitches, but only ranks tied for 43rd of the 88 qualified pitchers.
A 94 rating on the change ranks tied for 21st of 84 pitchers, while the cutter (90, T-35th) and sinker (87, T-39th) are around the middle or bottom third of the rankings. However, its the fastball that drags him down the most, with a 73 that ties Zack Greinke for 80th of 93.
Eduardo Rodríguez, Nasty 86mph Changeup. ? pic.twitter.com/MOdkmP4vW9&amp;amp;mdash; Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 10, 2023
Approaching Rodriguez as if he’s absolutely headed to free agency makes sense, as the remaining 3 years and $49 million on his contract can be erased with an opt out, which it would seem the 30-year-old pitcher should do. Thus, Rodriguez is likely to just be a rental for the Dodgers, and the Angels have pretty much set the market rate for rental starters now with their deal for Giolito. Add in the fact that there’s not a ton of options around unless someone is taking on Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer from New York, and the price I thought might work for Montgomery is quite higher now, with Rodriguez being a bit better.
Great minds, etc https://t.co/vDyz1P2XMc&amp;amp;mdash; Future Dodgers (@FutureDodgers) July 27, 2023
To LA: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
Just because the Angels overpaid doesn’t mean the Dodgers have to by giving up Dalton Rushing for a rental. Busch makes sense here because he’s still a top prospect in a good system, he’s MLB-ready, and he comes with six years of control. The willingness to trade Busch speaks more about a crowded Dodgers infield than his ability, and his high floor should help the Tigers during their rebuild.
As for the others, I think I’ve traded Duran three times, as his Tommy John surgery has him a bit of an unknown now, but the upside is there and the Tigers have time. I’m also including Mann, as he’s possibly going to be squeezed out of the organization this Winter but would be interesting to give a shot to at third. Hard to be worse than what the Tigers have there now, and they may end up with a find.
While this is an overpay for a non-elite rental, it’s a seller’s market and the Dodgers are desperately in need of someone to eat up innings, which is something Rodriguez can do for two months. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem hard to imagine that Gonsolin may continue to struggle given his vague health issues, and that rookies will continue to run up inconsistent innings over the final few months. So even assuming that Kershaw returns healthy and that Urias finds a semblance of consistency down the stretch, the Dodgers must acquire somebody to start at least one Game 3, and Rodriguez might end up being the best rental on the market.