Last night, Joely Rodriguez but up yet another solid line for a Reading pitching staff that seems near unbeatable as he went 7 innings, while allowing 4 hits (1 a solo HR), the 1 run, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. It was the 5th straight solid start for the 23 year old left hander after returning the Reading rotation on July 26. Over that span he has gone 27.1 innings with a 2.96 ERA. His strikeout rate is still down (15 strikeouts over that time period) but with 5 walks his control is much better. There are a lot signs that Rodriguez is turning around a rough season.
When Rodriguez came over from Pittsburgh the reports on him were that he had a sinker at 89-92 with an average at best slider and changeup. The Pirates had considered him as a reliever because he would tire deep into games, but the Phillies tried him as a starter in AAA and the results were poor as his control just disappeared. His velocity also sank back to 88-90 T91-92 and he couldn’t miss any bats. The Phillies then moved him to the AA bullpen where he continued to struggle and then he found his delivery again and reportedly touched 96 with his fastball. They then moved him back to the rotation in AA after injuries to Colin Kleven and Ben Lively, and the demotion of Mark Leiter Jr. The results have been impressive.
Rodriguez’s fastball is sitting more 90-93 touching 94 on the Reading stadium gun and his slider is looking solid again. He is throwing strikes:
|Total Pitches||Strikes||Strike Percentage|
But most importantly, the top skill for Rodriguez is back:
If Rodriguez can hold his velocity and generate ground balls at that rate he is a major league starter even if he isn’t missing bats at an elite rate. He is still buried in the middle of a deep set of upper minor pitchers for the Phillies so it will be difficult for him to carve out a spot in the log jam. He is also on his last minor league option, but given that this is just his 3rd season of full season ball, he is probably good for a 4th minor league option next year. The ceiling isn’t huge for Rodriguez and maybe he does go to the bullpen, but he is still young enough that there are lots of bumps in the road. The Phillies have not given up on him, and neither should you.