Examining SF Giants Randy Rodriguez's Viability As A Starter

Zaidi hinted that Randy Rodriguez does not need to be fast-tracked when he got added to the 40-man roster. Is Rodriguez a viable starter long-term?
Zaidi hinted that Randy Rodriguez does not need to be fast-tracked when he got added to the 40-man roster. Is Rodriguez a viable starter long-term? / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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Randy Rodriguez's 2021 Season

Rodriguez headed into the 2021 season without much of a fanfare. I did not have a good beat of his pitch repertoire before but I did see his mechanics when he was pitching in Rookie ball in 2018. I wrote this report on him in my 2021 Prospects Primer:

"While not much is known about Randy’s stuff, he has a good, strong
physique and deception in his delivery due to him reaching back hard in his throwing arm. Would be interested to see his progress in the next couple of years."

To be fair, his stats on the back fields were not eye-popping to the tune of 4.28 and 5.40 ERA in the DSL and AZL respectively, but he looked like have some bat-missing ability with 34 strikeouts in 27.1 innings in the DSL and 29 strikeouts in 25 innings in the AZL. Rodriguez pitched well from May to July where he posted a 3.21 ERA in his first three months with 51 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. However, he turned it on in August and September with a 28.1 inning scoreless streak with 50 strikeouts to three walks compared to 20 walks that he allowed in the first three months. To put Rodriguez's August and September to an even deeper context, he held hitters to a .143 batting average, struck out 48% of the batters that he faced, induced whiffs at an absurd 42% rate, and threw 71% of his pitches for strikes. He also pitched 1.1 scoreless innings in relief in the post-season as the San Jose squad won the Low-A West title.

All in all, Rodriguez struck out 101 batters in 62 innings, pitched with a 1.74 ERA, 9% walk rate, 67% strike thrown rate, 39% strikeout rate, and a 39% whiff rate. What is interesting is that Rodriguez's 62 innings and 1010 pitches this season were a little less than 2/3 of the number of innings and pitches of what top prospect Kyle Harrison threw this season. People might take that as the lines between starting and relieving are getting vaguer and vaguer. A more logical reason is that the Giants coaches want to give as many competitive reps to every pitcher that they missed out as possible due to the pandemic and pitchers are mostly working in more than one inning stints followed with a couple of days of rest. Rodriguez only pitched with less than three days of rest once this season in an effort to avoid overuse.

Rodriguez was also stingy in any at-bat but especially in the late-innings where he usually ends up pitching for most of the season. He is also nasty with runners in scoring position with a 0.85 ERA, a.132 opposing batting average, and 38 strikeouts in 22.1 innings of work. Simply put, Rodriguez was exceptional for San Jose this year as their Andrew Miller-type fireman out of the bullpen.