Is Eduardo Rodriguez the Answer for the Red Sox?
It's only one start, but for Boston fans, it was exactly what they needed.
Left-handed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was terrific in his Major League debut Thursday, shutting down a potent Texas Rangers lineup that had scored 47 runs in its last six games (7.83 per game) and had won seven of its last eight. All Rodriguez did was go 7 2/3 innings and give up no runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
He featured a fastball that was in the 93 to 95 miles per hour range as well as a pretty potent slider and a very solid changeup. He's a quick worker and has a simple delivery, too, reminiscent of Philadelphia's Cliff Lee. Of course, it's way too soon to draw comparisons to a pitcher of Lee's caliber, but he was also economical with his pitches, throwing 105 in those seven-plus innings, 68 of them for strikes.
His Game Score, a calculation that tallies up a pitcher's stats and gives that start a numeric rating, was 78, the highest mark in a Major League debut since August of 2012.
It truly was a terrific performance.
At 7.2 innings, Eduardo Rodriguez has the longest scoreless outing by a Red Sox in his major league debut since Billy Rohr in 1967 (9.0 IP).— Jon Shestakofsky (@Shesta_Sox) May 29, 2015
Boston acquired Rodriguez from the Baltimore Orioles in the deal last year for relief pitcher Andrew Miller, and he was the youngest Red Sox to make his Major League debut since the memorable Michael Bowden in 2008. And it's no surprise why Boston called Rodriguez up for a start Thursday, as he has been dominant down in Triple-A.
The consensus top-100 prospect had posted a 2.98 ERA in eight starts for Pawtucket, striking out 8.2 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.9, totaling 44 strikeouts and seven walks in 48 1/3 innings, and that was with batters hitting .321 against him on balls in play (BABIP).
Oh, and there is this quirky little note about Rodriguez you may not have known.
Red Sox rookie southpaw Eduardo "Eddie" Rodriguez threw right handed until breaking his right arm when he was seven years old.— David Laurila (@DavidLaurilaQA) May 29, 2015
These guys are star athletes for a reason.
The plan was for Rodriguez to return to Pawtucket after this start, but given the state of the Boston rotation, it would make sense for him to stick around. Red Sox starters still have the highest ERA in the American League at 5.17, and their Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 4.18 indicates it isn't going to get a whole lot better.
Clay Buchholz has a 4.33 ERA and a Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 3.09. Wade Miley's ERA is 4.47 with a FIP of 3.74. Joe Kelly's ERA is a ghastly 6.24 and his FIP is 4.51. Rick Porcello's ERA is 5.37 and his FIP is 4.38 and Justin Masterson has an ERA of 6.37 and a FIP of 5.27.
In other words, give the kid a chance. You're really not taking much of a risk here.
Not only that, if Rodriguez turns out to be a viable rotation arm, it could preclude the need for Boston to trade for a starter like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto, although Rodriguez is just 22 years old and counting on him to be the ace of a staff and start Game 1 of a playoff series would be asking a bit much.
Still, Rodriguez was terrific in Texas Thursday night, and the Red Sox rotation has been a mess all season long. If Boston wants to win a very weak American League East, they'd be wise to at least give Rodriguez another turn in the rotation five days from now.