The Astros starting rotation has stabilized as of late. However, options are waiting in the minors if the need arises.
Right-hander Brady Rodgers has flown under the radar in the Fresno Grizzlies starting rotation. With six starts under his belt this season, Rodgers has been pitching the best games of his minor league career in 2016. With the logjam at the major league starting rotation for the Astros and with other starters like Francis Martes and Joe Musgrove looking to take future rotation spots, Rogers has to pitch like an ace to be able to get the call-up.
Why has been Rodgers been overlooked? It’s because of his mediocre start to his career in the Astros system. Drafted in the 3rd round by the Astros in 2012 out of Arizona State University, Rodgers turned a lot of heads after his first 12 starts at Single-A Tri-Cities. In those starts, Rodgers was 7-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.139 WHIP in 62.1 innings.
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Ever since 2012 though, Rodgers has been on track to make the majors sooner rather than later. However, his stats have been mediocre and nothing special for a guy who is on the fast track to making the majors. That has slowed down a bit as he starts his second full season in Triple-A this year.
As last year’s stats showed, he still has some work to do. In 21 starts, he recorded a 9-7 record with a 4.51 ERA and 1.391 WHIP.
So far in 2016, he has been better, recording a 3.75 ERA and 1.250 WHIP through a team-leading 36 innings pitched.
What makes Rodgers stand out in the deep amount of starting pitching in the Astros system? First of all, his control on the mound has been impeccable. Through his 36 innings pitched in 2016, Rodgers has only thrown three walks.
However, with a number of pitches he throws that are in the strike zone, comes the opportunity for opposing batters to get hits easily off of him. He is averaging 10.5 hits given up per nine innings and has a .292 batting average against this season. His BABIP against him is his highest since 2013 at Single-A Lancaster at .342.
Rodgers’ FIP is much lower that his ERA indicates. Compared to an ERA of 3.75, Rodgers has an FIP of 3.13. According to Fan Graphs, this calculates a particular pitcher’s ERA on strikeouts, walks, hit batters, and home runs allowed. So basically, it’s calculating an ERA on what the pitchers themselves can technically control. This is another indicator of the amount of control Rodgers has on his pitches.
Rodgers has used his control to his favor in is last two starts. Through 15 innings, he has given up 13 hits, three earned runs, and only one walk with 13 strikeouts. This included a complete game shutout of the Reno Aces on May 4th for which he was named the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the week for the week of May 2nd through May 8th.
It is clear what the 25-year-old right-hander has to work on to get the majors. Some hittable pitches thrown are way too high, and the amount of contact against him would hurt him even more.
As Rodgers continues to pitch at Fresno, it’s his outings that are going to have to outshine other pitchers such as the newest member of the Grizzlies, Musgrove, for his name to be the next one called up to the majors.
**Statistics from MiLB.com and FanGraphs**