In his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez emerged as a reliable option out of the bullpen for manager Don Mattingly. Rodriguez had success late in the 2012 season after being called up from the minors and began 2013 at the big league level. Last year, Rodriguez appeared in 76 games in 2013, finishing with a 3-4 record, 2.32 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 20 holds.
However, as the season hit the latter stages, Rodriguez became largely ineffective and unreliable. He finished the month of September with a 5.68 ERA and gave up two runs on four hits to the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. The lefty was then left off the Dodgers NLCS roster, in part due to the St. Louis Cardinals primarily right-handed lineup, but also presumably because of Rodriguez’s struggles.
Once I figured it out, it was like, ‘Wow, that’s how it feels,'” said Rodriguez. I was pitching so well, but my arm slowly came up and it took away from my ability to hide the ball. It’s like night and day. I have a lot more control of my pitches.
Rodriguez has appeared in three Spring Training games, pitching a total of four innings without allowing one run. According to Gurnick, the left-hander has already noticed improvement:
I was showing the ball more than I normally do. Just one outing and it feels better.
It’s safe to assume the fatigue Rodriguez spoke of affected his mechanics and the combination resulted in Rodriguez no longer being a dominant reliever. Rodriguez is again expected to begin the season at the Major League level and with a better understanding of what a full season entails, along with avoiding showing the ball too early, he should return to being a valuable, trusted arm out of the bullpen.
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