2013 Dodgers review: Paco Rodriguez

USA TODAY Sports

A look at the reliable left-handed reliever in a very good rookie season.

Paco Rodriguez was the first player in the 2012 draft to make it to the majors, and was a key cog in the Dodgers bullpen in his first full season as a pro in 2013.

What went right

Rodriguez made the roster out of spring training as the Dodges bucked a decade-long trend of at least one non-roster pitcher making the team. By June he became the co-setup man to Kenley Jansen along with Ronald Belisario.

Rodriguez had a 1.88 ERA through August, and allowed two runs, just one earned, in 36 appearances in a 12-week period. Rodriguez even saved two games, including a two-inning affair on Aug. 5 in St. Louis that sealed the Dodgers' franchise record 15th consecutive road win.

But his first save came on June 25 against the Giants, a game that ended on a great catch by Matt Kemp in center field and an outstanding celebration on the mound by Rodriguez.

He neutralized left-handed batters to the tune of .131/.218/.182 against, including 44 strikeouts in 112 plate appearances (39.3%), with just eight unintentional walks.

What went wrong

The season's final month was not kind to Rodriguez, who was tied for fifth in MLB with 76 appearances in his first full professional season. He allowed four runs, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it made for a 5.68 ERA and 14 runners reaching base in 6⅓ innings in the season's final month. In September opposing batters hit three home runs, one more than he had allowed in his major league career to that point. Batters hit .308/.438/.731 against Rodriguez in September, and it carried into October.

Rodriguez appeared in two games against the Braves in the NLDS and was beaten by Jayson Heyward both times. The left-hander hit an RBI single in Game 2 in Atlanta, then a home run in mop-up duty against Rodriguez in Game 3 in Los Angeles.

After those five or so relatively bad weeks, Rodriguez was left off the Dodgers roster for the NLCS against the Cardinals.

It's easy to point at the 76 appearances in his first full season and say Rodriguez was simply fatigued, or he hit a wall at the end of a long season. But with the very large caveat that not all innings are created equal, Rodriguez did pitch 34 games and 62 innings as a junior with the University of Florida in 2012, then followed that up with 19⅔ innings in the minors and 6⅔ innings in the majors.

So he followed 66 total games and 88⅓ lesser innings in 2012 with 76 games and 54⅓ major league innings in 2013. Was he tired at the end of 2013? Probably. But maybe, just maybe, Rodriguez isn't a true sub-2.00 ERA pitcher and was bound to give up runs at some point.

But even with the fizzle at the end of the year, the total package that was Rodriguez in 2013 was overall a smashing success.

2014 status

Rodriguez has one year, 29 days of service time, and three option years remaining. He figures to again pitch important innings for the Dodgers again next season.

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