It’s been a tough season for San Francisco Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez. Is he finally ready to rejoin the starting rotation?
After a spectacular rookie campaign, Dereck Rodriguez he has struggled to find the same success for the San Francisco Giants this season.
He was optioned to the minors early in the season to work on his command, briefly served in a long-relief role out of the MLB bullpen, and now he’s back working as a starter at Triple-A.
The Giants handed him the ball for the second game of a doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies on Monday, and he turned in his best start since April.
The 27-year-old went five strong innings and only allowed one run, which ended up as earned in the box score, but was actually the result of Austin Slater misplaying a ball in right field.
He looked sharp with all four of his pitches and did extremely well considering he was pitching in the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field on a hot day.
Despite his great start, Rodriguez was optioned back to the minors afterward in favor of Andrew Suarez, who will be added to the team’s bullpen.
The rationale behind this is understandable. The team prefers to continue using Rodriguez as a starter, so they sent him back down so he can stay stretched out while calling up Suarez to replenish a bullpen that has been worked hard.
If a starter gets hurt, underperforms, or winds up traded, Rodriguez will likely be the next man up to join the rotation.
While his excellent start at Coors could have just been a blip, he showed signs of great progress. One of the main causes for his decline has been a lower strikeout rate coupled with a higher walk rate. At Coors on Monday night, he struck out six batters in five innings and walked none.
That alone is a reason for optimism.
It is only one start, but with the possibility of Madison Bumgarner getting traded still very real, it should give the Giants some confidence in Rodriguez as a depth option.
With expectations so high after his stellar rookie season, it is possible that Rodriguez put too much pressure on himself to start the season and struggled as a result. Now, with the spotlight off him, he may be ready to move past his early issues to again emerged as a potential long-term piece of the puzzle.
For the San Francisco Giants, his strong start on Monday was a promising first step in that direction.