It has become a recurring theme during the first month of the 2021 season where Los Angeles Angels reliever Chris Rodriguez is called upon to pull the team out from a messy situation and delivers. A starting pitcher in the minor leagues, back injuries delayed Rodriguez’s ascent to the majors. However, Joe Maddon and the Angels decided to give him a chance in the bullpen.
He’s repaid them with a 2.45 ERA in 14.2 innings, allowing a total of four earned runs and 10 walks. Meanwhile, he’s struck out 17 batters. He’s also 2-0 on the season, helping the Angels secure victories with his middle inning heroics.
Maddon spoke about Rodriguez’s potential, saying that while he used to see him as a late-inning reliever, he absolutely could see his role shifting to starter, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“In spring training, I thought he was more of a full-effort, late-inning relief pitcher,” Maddon said. “But he’s got pitchability. I’m seeing the breaking ball, curveball, slider. And I’m seeing the changeup [with] the sink piece that puts the ball on the ground. He can get quick outs. As he builds up and as he gains more experience, in my estimation, he could do either. But I definitely believe he can be a starter.”
If Rodriguez can simply get his command up slightly to stop allowing as many walks, there’s no doubt he has the stuff to be a starting pitcher. His longest outing of the season came Wednesday night in the Angels win over the Texas Rangers.
It was Rodriguez’s second win of the season, and he pitched 3.1 innings, throwing a total of 42 pitches. He allowed one hit and one walk — but zero runs — while also striking a batter out. Getting those 10 outs were instrumental in getting the game back on track as the Rangers closed a 4-0 gap to 4-3 off of starter Alex Cobb.
This season, Rodriguez will likely remain in the bullpen, acting as a long reliever for situations exactly like this one. However, it’s not out of the question for him to be considered part of the starter equation for 2022.
Jose Quintana looking to turn the page after rough outing
Wednesday night marked the second straight poor outing from a starting pitcher, as Jose Quintana did not fare well on Tuesday either. He said after the game that he feels good physically, but needs to have more trust in his stuff if he wants to get back into a rhtyhm.