If there’s one player on the Astros 40-man roster that fans have seen enough of it’s reliever Fernando Rodrigueez. The 28-year old right-hander from El Paso had a difficult 2012 season, to say the least. Rodriguez went 2-10 with a 5.37 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Despite his struggles, Brad Mills continued to use F-Rod in high leverage situations all summer long.That particular strategy had to be a contributing factor in the Astros decision to fire Mills. Once Tony DeFrancesco took over, Rodriguez was used in less stressful situations.
Rodriguez seems to be able to get the first two outs of an inning – with ease. It’s that all-important third out that seems to consistently give him problems. Holding base-runners has also been a major issue for F-Rod. His extremely high set position allows runners to get a big jump. Last season Rodriguez allowed 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. He also allowed 10 runners to advance on wild pitches.
The overall numbers posted by Rodriguez in his two seasons with the Astros have not been pretty. Since signing with Houston prior to the 2011 season Rodriguez has posted a high ERA, a high walk rate, a high fly ball percentage, and a low strand rate. But the two numbers that Jeff Luhnow and company seem to be blinded by are his strikeout rate and fastball velocity.
Rodriguez has fanned 135 batters in 122 innings in an Astros uniform. With an average fastball velocity of 93.8 last season, Rodriguez was one of the hardest throwers on the Astros staff. But are these two numbers reason enough to keep Rodriguez on the staff? I would have to say, no.
I would be shocked to see Rodriguez make the Opening Day roster. His only value at the big league level could be as a mop-up man, in my opinion. Primarily a starter throughout his minor league career, the Astros could attempt to stretch him out into a long relief role. If F-Rod makes the team he could find himself pitching in those games that get out of hand early.