Sox Starter Study: Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo, The Enigma?

Eduardo Rodriguez is among the most perplexing starters this season, which has sparked plenty of debate between Boston Red Sox fans.  It hasn’t looked good but he’s definitely improved as of late, allowing 10 ER in his last 29.2 innings (3.03 ERA).  Eddie has been one of MLB’s most unlucky starters, which we’ll get into in a bit.  First, let’s take a look at the surface numbers for ERod’s 2021 so far.

In 96.1 IP, Eduardo currently owns a 5.23 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.  I know what you’re thinking: “Yuck, this guy is even worse than Richards!”.  Let me explain why that isn’t the case.  ERod owns career bests with a 27.4 K% and 5.8 BB%, as well as a 3.50 FIP and 3.34 xFIP.  He also owns 3 pitches with over 30% CSW, resulting in a career-best 28.8% CSW.  Career-worst barrel% and hard hit% seem to be the only real issues among Statcast #s.  Despite those, he’s having one of his better seasons by plenty of Statcast metrics and his Savant page is mostly red.  By most accounts Eddie has been a rock solid starter.

Eddie’s Pitch Repertoire

The repertoire hasn’t seen much change from 2019, though the curveball is gone and slider usage is up 6%. Primarily, Eddie remains a 4 seam/changeup/cutter guy.  He’s locating all pitches well with the exception of the slider finding mid-zone too often.  He’s finding the zone when needed with a solid zone % and career-bests in first pitch strike% and called strike%.  On top of that his velocity and spin aren’t seeing significant change, so what’s making him so hittable?  It seems that he really hasn’t even been that hittable!  The .355 BABIP is by far the highest of Rodriguez’ career, .049 higher than career average.  Left on base % (an abysmal 65.8) and HR/FB% (15.1) are also career-worsts.  Looking at individual pitches’ luck, those main 3 pitches show considerable differences between BA/SLG and xBA/xSLG.  In fact, he ranks among the top 20 most unlucky pitchers in BA, SLG, wOBA, and ERA.

Another way we can analyze a pitcher is simply checking the game log.  All starts count, but cherry-picking a couple starts can help paint a better idea of how most starts go.  With Eddie, the Houston starts are the main culprit of his messy ERA.  In 2 starts and 9.1 IP, Houston put up 12 earned runs on the back of 5 Rodriguez walks and a .407 BABIP.  Eduardo’s 2021 without these 2 starts? 17 GS and 87 IP with a much better 4.55 ERA.  By no means an ace, but a totally different story from 5+ ERA territory.

In Summary

All in all, Eduardo Rodriguez has been solid and his best games of the season should be ahead of him for the Boston Red Sox.  LOTS of numbers support this as a good but unlucky run for the veteran starter.  I expect him to turn things around, but even if he doesn’t that’s okay.  Boston has depth and it’s honestly a miracle that Eddie is even pitching after his health scare last year, let alone pitching decently! I have faith in our guy, and you should too.

Featured image courtesy of Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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