Eduardo Rodriguez gives up 62 earned runs in 104.2 innings for a 5.33 ERA, including 14 home runs, struggles to go deep into starts and hitters hit .276 off of him. He seems bad, right?
Wrong. Because that same pitcher has struck out 131 batters, walked just 32, and owns a FIP of 3.38 along with other great peripheral stats. The lefty has the highest ERA ever for a pitcher with over 100 innings pitched, 11 strikeouts per nine innings, and less than 3 walks per nine innings by nearly a full run. In fact, the feat of >100 IP, >11 K/9, and <3 BB/9 has only been accomplished 48 times in AL/NL history, and Rodriguez is the only one with a below average ERA, and E-Rod’s ERA is well below average.
Compared to the second highest ERA to ever accomplish this feat, Matthew Boyd in 2019, his FIP was a full run higher because Boyd gave up 39 home runs, which is obscene in it’s own right. Rodriguez’s issue isn’t even home runs, it’s simply bad luck on balls in play.
The Red Sox‘s southpaw has always been good about managing contact, as he’s never allowed an average exit velocity above 88 MPH, twice finishing in the 95th percentile of Exit Velocity and never finishing below the 68th percentile of Hard Hit %. Rodriguez was one of baseball’s best contact managers in 2019, when he was in the 81st percentile of Statcast Expected Batting Average and 79th percentile of Statcast Expected Weighted on Base Average. In 2021, he places in the 55th and 69th percentiles respectively in those metrics, with the 2nd largest gap between xBA and BA, and third largest gap between wOBA and xwOBA amongst the 129 pitchers who have allowed 200 balls in play.
The 28-year-old has limited hard contact well (83rd percentile of exit velocity), and struck out 28% of the batters he’s faced, while he’s walked just 7%. But yet, he sits with a 5.33 ERA due to awful luck. The defense behind him hasn’t done him many favors, as the Red Sox have one of the worst infield defenses in baseball, populated by Bogaerts, Devers, and Dalbec being near or at the bottom of Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric for their position.
Having examined that Eduardo Rodriguez is unlucky, we now must answer the question of how good he’s been, which may surprise you. Peripheral stats xFIP, SIERA, and pCRA are good indicators of performance because they take out most things that happen outside of a pitcher’s control, as well as being more predictive of future ERA than ERA itself.
Amongst the 33 AL Pitchers with 100 Innings pitched, Rodriguez ranks third in xFIP, sporting a 3.29, behind only Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon. In SIERA, he ranks 4th in the AL behind the aforementioned Cole and Rodon, as well as Toronto’s Robbie Ray.
pCRA, another ERA estimator, has Rodriguez third in the AL behind just Cole and Rodon, similar to xFIP. Not to mention, he’s doing this after missing the entire 2020 MLB Season with a heart condition related to COVID 19.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who is a free agent after this season, has had a very good, and extremely unlucky season. Yet, that’s not to say he’s an elite level pitcher. He averages less than 5 1/3 innings per game started, as he does get in lots of deep counts pushing his pitch count high and capping his ceiling for now. But Chaim Bloom should absolutely offer him a contract and bring him back before the rest of MLB realizes how good he is.
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)