Last season, Paco Rodriguez got the call in 11 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the first player out of the 2012 draft to make it to the big leagues.
Rodriguez was drafted out of the University of Florida in the second round and after signing with the Dodgers, he was assigned to Low A with the Great Lakes Loons. He would make six appearances without allowing a run and quickly got a promotion to Double A Chattanooga for 15 games. He would make it to the Dodgers in early September and quickly became the left-handed specialist, finishing the year 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 11 appearances.
Regular Season Grade: B+
Rodriguez showed the same promise he had a season ago in Spring Training in February. In 12 appearances, he had a 3.09 ERA while striking out 13 batters and limiting them to a .214 batting average. His performance solidified his spot on the Dodgers Opening Day roster against the San Francisco Giants.
Well, Rodriguez proved that the small sample size late last season was no fluke as he more than surpassed expectations this season. Despite getting off to a rough start in April where he had a 0-1 record, 4.32 ERA and allowed four runs in 8.1 innings pitched, Rodriguez turned it around.
Rodriguez went on to finish the season with a 2.32 ERA with two saves, 63 strikeouts and limiting the opposition to a .164 batting average. He had an exceptional stretch from May to August and before Brian Wilson showed up, he was given eighth inning duties.
However, overuse by manager Don Mattingly had a huge effect on how Paco would finish the season. In September, Rodriguez went 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA, allowing four runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Despite the struggles down the stretch, Rodriguez had a very solid season and earned a spot on the NLDS roster.
Playoff Grade: D
Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his struggles in September followed him into October as he had an awful NLDS. In two games against the Atlanta Braves, Rodriguez had a 27.00 ERA in 0.2 innings pitched, allowing two runs on four hits.
Rodriguez was involved in one of manager Don Mattingly’s biggest blunders of the postseason in Game 2 of the NLDS. Mattingly brought him in to face left-handed pinch hitter Jose Constanza, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez countered, pinch-hitting Constanza with right-hander Reed Johnson. Wanting him to face a lefty, Paco intentionally walked Johnson to face Jason Heyward, who promptly delivered the game-winning hit.
The Dodgers coaching staff decided he ran out of gas and left him off the NLCS roster against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Overall Grade: C
Rodriguez had a strong first full season in the majors as he exceeded everyone’s expectations and was one of the reasons the Dodgers bullpen turned things around after a sluggish start. While he struggled down the stretch, Paco was still one of the most effective arms for the Dodgers as he was able to limit both right-handed and left-handed hitters.
With J.P. Howell a free agent, it’s possible the Dodgers give him another chance to be the left-handed specialist out of the bullpen as they’ll expect more from him in his sophomore season.
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