Rodriguez became an effective arm out of the bullpen and brought a fresh arm for manager Don Mattingly to use in the postseason push. He came into the 2013 season as the primary left-hander out of the bullpen and had a solid season before faltering late in the year.
According to Christina DiNicola of MLB.com, Rodriguez discussed his September struggles and plans for 2014:
Last year, I thought I prepared well enough, but at the end I might have gotten a little tired and I didn’t pitch as well as I wanted to. I felt like I had to work a little harder just to get to that point where I can last a whole season.
The 22-year-old began losing key chances to J.P. Howell and was left off the NLCS roster after a tough NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. Overall, Rodriguez ended the season with 2.32 ERA in 54.1 innings. He struck out 63 batters and was effective against both right-handers and left-handers. In the off-season, the Dodgers re-signed Howell and will once again go with both left-handers in the bullpen.
Mattingly may learn from last season and make sure Rodriguez doesn’t fall to fatigue again after appearing in 76 games last season. The Dodgers are expecting to be in the postseason again and will need Rodriguez for late-game situations against their opponent’s better left-handed hitters. Howell may get a few more innings to keep the third-year reliever fresher.
Bullpen depth became a strength for the Dodgers over the winter after the re-signings of Howell and Brian Wilson, and the signings of Chris Perez and Jamey Wright. Also, left-hander Scott Elbert will be returning from surgery in June and could give Mattingly another left-hander if needed.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation week in review video