The Aneury Rodriguez Series | The Process Report

The Aneury Rodriguez Series

This weekend’s series against the Astros could mark the first (and perhaps the last) opportunity the Rays will get to see Aneury Rodriguez in the majors. Rodriguez, of course, is a bit of an old friend, as Tampa Bay acquired him prior to the 2009 season in a swap for Jason Hammel. In two seasons within the Rays organization, Rodriguez struggled and shifted from starter to reliever back to starter, depending on the farm club’s needs and his progress as a pitcher. Unsurprisingly, Rodriguez went unselected in the 2009 Rule 5 draft, but the Astros popped him early on in 2010, and he stuck with the team through spring training.

The major leagues have not been kind to Rodriguez, although he has more innings pitched than Jeff Niemann or Andy Sonnanstine, as he has fanned 37 batters, walked 19, and allowed nine home runs in 54 innings pitched. The end result is a 5.33 earned run average and 4.57 xFIP, although, to Rodriguez’s credit, his work as a reliever has been more tolerable, with an improved strikeout-to-walk ratio and a decreased home run rate.

As for Rodriguez’s stuff, his fastball sits in the low-90s and he throws a garden variety of secondary pitches. It comes down to controlling and commanding the fastball, like it often does for pitchers, and Rodriguez clearly struggles with that at times. I watched Rodriguez against the Cubs on Labor Day, and he was smacked around. He missed his spots routinely, including one that he left dangling for Carlos Pena to deposit into the right field bleachers.

Even with the struggles, nobody should blame Houston for being hesitant to relinquish Rodriguez. The Astros are on a one-way ticket to the cellar this season regardless of who pitches the mop-up innings for them, so if they feel like Rodriguez has a chance to turn into anything—if only a decent middle reliever—then it makes sense to hold onto him. Houston is better served to waste innings on youth like Rodriguez, who have the chance—however small—to become cheap labor parts on a good team, than veteran also-rans like Geoff Geary, Doug Brocail, and Brian Moehler, who have little upside or reliability.

I would guess the Astros hang onto Rodriguez, because it’s already late June, and what’s another three months, but maybe the Astros tire and send him packing. The Rays should take him back if the chance presents itself, but don’t fret if the opportunity never arises. Rodriguez, simply put, isn’t someone you would want coming out of the bullpen for this Rays team.

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