Los Angeles Angels pitcher Chris Rodriguez has not had plenty of chances to show his ability in recent seasons. Back injuries kept him out for much of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, while the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic entirely ridded him of 2020.
Despite this, the Angels gave Rodriguez — normally a starter — a chance to show what he can do out of the major league bullpen. In general manager Perry Minasian’s complete retooling of the relief crew, he brought up one of the Angels top pitching prospects in Rodriguez. Not only that, manager Joe Maddon put him in during just the second game of the regular season.
Rodriguez did not disappoint. He threw 2.0 flawless innings, giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out three and allowing zero runs. In 27 pitches, he threw 18 strikes and gave the Angels a chance to claw back into the game from a 7-1 deficit. Rodriguez was ecstatic about the debut, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“Honestly it was like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” Rodriguez said. “When I entered the gate I completely blacked out. When I got out of the inning and heard the fans scream, there’s no better feeling honestly.”
As amazed and excited as Rodriguez was, Maddon was equally impressed, saying that seeing his ability up close gives the Angels a world of possibilities.
“That was special and powerful,” Maddon said. “I think it taught us a lot right there. I didn’t know what to expect. He’s got that kind of ability. That’s impressive to get that many outs with that few pitches. I think we learned a lesson ourselves.”
While Rodriguez is usually a starter, he also said that he’ll play any role he needs to in order to play in the big leagues. It’s unlikely that he starts games this season, but his ability to do so may give the Angels some flexibility when planning for future years.
When Minasian and Maddon put seven brand new faces into this current bullpen, it opened the door for a lot of questions. However, Rodriguez’s debut performance may have come with significant answers, even if the rest of the bullpen struggled.
Pitchers fail to keep White Sox at bay as Angels lose 12-8
The bats were alive and well in Friday night’s game between the Angels and White Sox. Only three Halos pitchers — Rodriguez, Junior Guerra, and Mike Mayers — did not have a single earned run. They pitched a combined 5.0 innings, meaning the others gave up 12 earned runs in just 4.0 innings of work.
The Angels lost 12-8 to move to 1-1 on the young season.