Dereck Rodriguez began the season in the San Francisco Giants rotation. However, after a couple of rough starts, he was sent to the Giants AAA affiliate in Sacramento.
He has since been recalled from the minors, but he is currently being underutilized as a long reliever in the San Francisco Giants bullpen.
With a 34-45 record, the Giants are wasting a prime opportunity to better evaluate Rodriguez, and it is starting to look like a lost year of development for the 27-year-old right-hander.
Meanwhile, the Giants continue to trot out Drew Pomeranz, who has a 6.79 ERA in 58.1 innings of work. Similarly, Derek Holland continues to get mop-up innings with an equally ugly 6.17 ERA in 58.1 innings.
With the struggles Pomeranz has endured, it is surprising that Rodriguez has not been given a second look as a starter. Farhan Zaidi has stated his desire to ease Rodriguez’s workload this season, but that does not feel like what the Giants are currently doing.
There has also been no sign that his role is going to change anytime soon. So why exactly are the Giants reluctant to test him out as a starter again?
There is no simple answer.
Rodriguez had a solid start to the season, posting a 3.54 ERA in his first five starts while working at least five innings in each of those games.
Then, he hit a rough patch:
During that three-game stretch, Rodriguez’s ERA ballooned from 3.54 to 5.05.
In his first start in Cincinnati, he yielded eight earned runs in an ugly loss. However, the Giants pitching staff gave up 37 total runs in that series, so he was only part of a wider struggle.
The second start against the Reds also resulted in a loss, but the four runs he allowed were all unearned, so poor defense was definitely a factor.
Following that game, Rodriguez was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento to work on his mechanics.
His trip to the minors was a brief one. He made two starts and posted a 3.52 ERA before he was recalled to the majors.
Since then, Rodriguez has worked exclusively out of the bullpen. His appearances have been sporadic, and he has pitched primarily in mop-up duty.
He hasn’t even been the first pitcher turned to for mop-up duty. That role has gone to Derek Holland, with Rodriguez usually getting what’s leftover after that. One of Rodriguez or Holland out of the bullpen is redundant.
As a reliever, Rodriguez has completed 13.2 innings of work while making seven appearances, posting a 3.95 ERA but tallying just seven strikeouts. That inability to miss bats remains a concern.
Regardless, the way in which the San Francisco Giants are currently using him seems directionless. They like his arm, but can’t seem to find a role that best utilizes his strengths.
It’s been a weird year for a player who was by all accounts a breakout star in 2018.
When and if he returns to the rotation remains to be seen, an unfortunate situation for a pitcher who has a quality arm and is deserving of another chance.