Right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez posted a 2-3 record with a 3.96 ERA in 47 games with the Astros last season. The 27 year-old native of El Paso spent eight seasons in the Angels organization, appearing in only one big league game prior to joining the Astros. Houston signed Rodriguez as a Free Agent last off-season and he began the season in the Oklahoma City bullpen.
Rodriguez was outstanding at AAA, holding hitters to a .228 average while striking out 12.4 batters per nine innings, earning a call-up to the big leagues in late May. Rodriguez made his Astros debut on May 28 and picked up his first win in appearance number two only three days later. Fernando was sent back to AAA on June 24 despite putting together some nice outings and numbers in Houston. (22 strikeouts and five walks in 15 & 2/3 innings)
FanRod returned to the Astros for good on July 15. As the season progressed Rodriguez gained the trust of manager Brad Mills and began seeing more and more action in the late innings. Rodriguez accumulated six holds for the Astros down the stretch. Rodriguez pitched well for most of the season before slumping in his last three or four outings. He finished the season with a respectable 9.8 K/9 IP but the walk rate of 5.2/9 IP suggests FanRod needs to keep working on his control.
Rodriguez has a sneaky-fast fastball that is consistently clocked at 92 or 93. He also features an above average curveball and a change-up that still needs some work.
New G.M. Jeff Luhnow says Spring Training will bring lots of competition for open roster spots. The bullpen will be one area where the competition should be wide open. If he can show improved command of his pitches and lower his walk rate I think FanRod will make the Opening Day Roster.