Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Eduardo Rodriguez

The BoSox Injection staff reflects on the 2016 season by grading each member of the Boston Red Sox based on expectations for them entering the season.

The commencement of Eduardo Rodriguez’s 2016 season was delayed until May 31 due to injury and perhaps said injury contributed to his mighty initial struggles.

On February 27, 2016, Eduardo Rodriguez was diagnosed with a patellar subluxation of his right knee, a temporary partial dislocation of the kneecap, in which the kneecap no longer travels centrally along the groove designed to enable smooth pain-free motion. Instead, the kneecap is pulled to the periphery of the groove frequently resulting in discomfort and joint instability.

Rodriguez completed the 2016 campaign with a 3-7 record and a 4.71 ERA. While those numbers are not pretty, Rodriguez pitched much more effectively in his final 11 starts relative to his first nine. If one merely glances at Rodriguez’s seasonal statistics, failing to consider his marked improvement, it might appear that Eduardo Rodriguez had an unsuccessful season.

Upon comparing Rodriguez’s performance over his first nine starts to his performance over his final eleven starts, the enormous disparity becomes self-evident.

It should be noted that the Major League averages for Strikeout rate, Bases on Balls rate, and slash, (BA/OBA/SLG), are 20.8%, 7.9%, and .255/.319/.411, respectively.

In Rodriguez’s first nine starts of the 2016 campaign, a period that spanned from May 31 to July 27, he pitched as if he were still dealing with an injury. In those nine starts, he accumulated 47.0 IP, produced a 6.51 ERA, along with a 7.24 FIP. In addition, he issued bases on balls at an 8.5% rate, struck out only 17.1% of opposing batters, while yielding a ridiculous 5.7% HR rate. Furthermore, he produced a slash line of .302/.360/.557.

During this period, Rodriguez authored one of the most atrocious starts that I have ever witnessed which, not surprisingly, resulted in his demotion to Pawtucket. On June 27 at Tampa, Rodriguez allowed 11 Hits, nine ER, along with two home runs in just 2.2 innings. Rodriguez would spend the next 20 days in beautiful Rhode Island before returning to Boston to make a July 16 start at the Yankees.

In Rodriguez’s last 11 starts of the season, he pitched brilliantly. It was difficult to fathom that he was the same pitcher who made those initial nine starts.

In the two months spanning from August 1 to October 1, E-Rod made eleven starts, pitching an even sixty innings. During said period, he generated an ERA of 3.30, an FIP of 3.13, and a HR rate of 1.6%. In addition, his Bases on balls rate was 8.9%, his Strikeout Rate was a very healthy 25.9%, and he limited opponents to a slash line of .188/.268/.294.

It is frequently claimed that it is not how one starts but, rather, how one finishes. For Eduardo Rodriguez, truer words could not be uttered. In light of his delayed start to the 2016 season due to injury, and his much-improved performance over the final two months of the season, I would declare Rodriguez’s 2016 season a success.

Grade: B

What’s Next?

Eduardo Rodriguez’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and is definitely overpowering. His change-up, while quite hard, has good fade to it and is certainly an effective weapon in his pitching arsenal. While I believe that he has the potential to become an ace, for that to be realized, his slider needs significant improvement.

Currently, there is very little difference in velocity between his slider and change-up. In addition, the slider has very little tilt to it and is frequently hung. I would like to see him incorporate a 75 mph curveball; however, I have never seen him throw one and he may be unable to develop one.

If the slider is here to stay, he needs to keep it down in the strike zone, perhaps even in the dirt, and generate more horizontal movement than it currently possesses.

If Rodriguez can enter the 2017 campaign healthy and with a much-improved third pitch, I believe that he could become the ace of the staff.

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