Aside from his nasty pitch arsenal, he’s in the midst of one of the best comeback stories in the majors. Rodriguez has not pitched competitively since 2019, due the pandemic last summer and back surgery which kept him off the mound.
Unfortunately, it’s for that reason I don’t think we’ll see him rushed into the starting rotation.
Manager Joe Maddon and the Angels have emphasized easing Rodriguez into MLB action given his injury history and lack of competitive innings. Since being drafted in 2016, Rodriguez has never pitched at Double-A or Triple-A and the most innings he’s tossed competitively is 57 IP in 2017. He’s also thrown just 9.1 competitive innings from 2017-2020.
The plan is to eventually use him as a starter down the road, but being used out of the bullpen to build himself up is what’s expected right now. This would be similar to the use of Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias Dodgers White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech. Both were pitchers coming off major injuries who were eased back into the rotation after being used as relievers.
Chris Rodriguez has been nothing short of electric for the Angels this season.
That being said, Rodriguez has been very impressive in his seven outings out of the bullpen. His last appearance might have been the most impressive as he came in for long relief after Alex Cobb lasted just two innings. Rodriguez got his second win of the season, allowing zero earned runs on one hit while walking one and striking out one in 3.1 innings pitched.
His total lines this season have been solid. In seven outings, he holds a 2.45 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, and a 2.82 FIP.
He’s also in the MLB’s top-eight percent for xBA (.167) and top-four percent for xSLG (.222).
Pushing Rodriguez into the rotation would definitely leave a hole in what’s been a fairly decent bullpen thus far. It’s a two-way argument, because then you could say the struggles of the starting pitching will wear out the bullpen down the road. If the team’s relievers have to consistently come into games in the third and fourth innings, that group will be worn out by mid-season.
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I also think using Rodriguez as a starter in the near future depends on how much of a rush the Angels are in to win this season.
Rodriguez would give the team their best option should the current rotation arms continue to struggle, but there’s no point in taking a risk if the Halos aren’t serious contenders this season.