It’s been a while since there was anticipation for an Angels homegrown pitcher. That will change later this week when Chris Rodriguez makes his MLB debut.
Currently listed as the Halos No.4 prospect, Rodriguez made his return to the mound in spring training after not pitching since the 2019 season due to a back injury and the global pandemic. The 22-year-old has not played above High-A ball, but the Angels felt he was ready to make the jump to the big leagues after spending time at the team’s alternate site last summer and eight spring appearances this year.
Angels: Chris Rodriguez will be electric out of the bullpen.
2021 Spring Training Statistics:
- Rodriguez (8 games): 8 IP 9 H 4 ER 1 BB 10 SO
It’s a small sample size, but six of the eight outings for Rodriguez this spring have been scoreless. Even though he needs to continue working on mechanics, the right-hander has proven he’s got a nasty pitch arsenal at his disposal. Among them includes a high-90’s fastball and mid-80’s breaking ball.
The current Angels relievers do not consist of many hard-throwers, so having a weapon like Rodriguez will be a great change of pace.
Manager Joe Maddon explained the team will closely monitor Rodriguez’s workload when using him as a reliever to begin the season.
"“I think if you were to take somebody like that, you’d have to be prepared to really be kind of frugal in between appearances, to make sure that he does have time to recover,” Maddon said. “You can’t get greedy with a guy like that if you were to take him.”"
There was debate as to whether or not using Rodriguez in this role would be detrimental to his development as a future starter, but I don’t think it will be if done correctly. The Dodgers used Julio Urias out of the bullpen after his comeback from shoulder surgery, and now the lefty looks poised to be an elite starter in the league.
If all goes well in his first few outings, Rodriguez could be used as a starter in the first month or two of the regular season. Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning have struggled in their spring outings, and Shohei Ohtani left his start on Monday with a blister. It’s uncertain how much of a leash any of those three pitchers have, but there’s a chance Rodriguez could be called upon for rotation help along with Jaime Barria and Patrick Sandoval.
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It might take a few outings before Rodriguez is used in high-leverage situations, but once he settles in, a pitcher of his caliber has unlimited potential.