LA Angels: Can Jose Rodriguez Build Off of Strong 2019?
Last season, the LA Angels saw a huge number of pitchers go down with injuries. While not optimal, this opened up opportunities for an equal amount of new players.
One of the players the LA Angels gave a chance was reliever Jose Rodriguez. The right-handed pitcher has been in the organization since 2013, when he was just 17-years old. He’s always been on the younger side throughout his development, and reached the MLB for the first time last season.
And in a small sample size, Rodriguez was exceptional. He pitched 19.2 innings in nine games, walking 11 batters while striking out 13. He struggled with the longball, giving up five home runs in his time.
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Despite that though, he posted a 2.75 ERA on the year. Three of those five big flies came in one game, as well. After that rough outing though, Rodriguez finished the season strong with a 1.93 ERA over his final seven games of the season.
Going into 2020, Rodriguez probably has an outside shot at breaking camp with the big league team. The Angels will have a lot of their arms back in 2020, but that doesn’t mean Rodriguez doesn’t have a chance. If he can show that his strikeout numbers are closer to his minor league levels, Rodriguez will have a role on a big league club.
Speaking of his minor league numbers, though, there’s reason to believe Rodriguez’s small sample size won’t last in the MLB. His 2019 ERA, mixed with both AA and AAA pitching, sat at 6.57. While there was an offensive boom in the Pacific Coast League, that’s a scary number for a young pitcher trying to make his way to the MLB.
If Rodriguez does make his way to the MLB as apart of the Angels bullpen, he would fill a position of need. While the bullpen as a whole is primed for a bounceback season, they do not currently have a long-man in the group. While it’s possible Felix Pena could fill that role if the Angels’ rotation is stable enough, Rodriguez is another candidate for when the Halos need 3-4 innings out of a reliever.
So while his 2020 role with the Angels is up in the air, Jose Rodriguez has a skillset that the team needs, and could utilize effectively in 2020 should they keep the young pitcher in the MLB.