Jamie Gatlin | September 9th, 2019
Coming into 2019 the Red Sox starting rotation was supposed to be one of their strengths. Unfortunately, this season has not gone as planned and due to inconsistency and injuries the Red Sox starters have not met expectations. Although it has been a disappointing season, Eduardo Rodriguez has been a bright spot on a struggling staff. The former top prospect is having the best season of his career. As the Red Sox fall and are currently third in the AL East, Rodriguez is emerging as an ace.
At the beginning of the season, Rodriguez was coming off an impressive year that had been shortened by injuries. In 2018 the lefty set a career-high in wins with 13. He had 146 strikeouts, which were only four short of his career-high. Although he only threw 129.2 innings, Rodriguez still managed to reach double-digit wins for the first time in his career. Even though the 2018 season was a memorable one, Rodriguez still had more to prove.
Ever since the Red Sox acquired Rodriguez in the Andrew Miller deal, he has been seen as a top the rotation arm. As Chris Sale and David Price have battled injuries this season that is what the Red Sox have needed Rodriguez to be. He has responded by being the Red Sox best pitcher as he enters unknown territory.
Despite Rodriguez’s talent, durability has always been an issue as before 2019 he had never thrown more than 137.1 innings. This season he is currently at 172.2 and is continually improving. In Rodriguez’s last four starts he has only given up three runs. He has won all four of those starts and only allowed three home runs since the start of August.
While the twenty-six-year-old has been impressive of late, his overall numbers show that he is finally becoming the pitcher he was projected to be. With a little less than a month left in the season, Rodriguez has set a career-high in wins with 17 and strikeouts with 168. If the season were to end today his ERA of 3.81 would be a career-low.
Although the Red Sox season may be viewed as a disappointment, it has been a critical year of growth for Rodriguez. Unlike in years passed, he has avoided any injuries that would cause him to miss extended time. With the Red Sox rotation in shambles, he has been the only reliable piece. That has been key for the organization as they are about to enter an offseason full of changes.
While Chris Sale is still considered the Red Sox ace his status next season is uncertain. Even if he comes to Spring Training healthy, durability will be an issue until he stays healthy for a full season. As a result, the Red Sox will need Rodriguez to continue to grow. He also has shown an ability to pitch deep into games which, until this season, was an issue.
As the Red Sox try to finish the season strong many young players will get a chance to show their skills. The defending champs are still in the playoff picture but are seven games back of a playoff spot with three teams in front of them. Rodriguez, however, will be looking to end 2019 on a high note as he has finally become the pitcher he was always expected to be.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images