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Eduardo Rodriguez an intriguing development for Red Sox

Rob Bradford
September 02, 2018 - 8:01 am

CHICAGO -- Earlier in the day Dave Dombrowski attempted to detail why the waiver trade deadline was met with a sad trombone when it came to the Red Sox. It was an explanation that many had a hard time getting their head around.

Alex Cora's take on it a few hours later seemed a bit more palatable for those following the team.

"I know lots of teams made trades yesterday. Well, let's put it this way, that was a trade for us. We'll take that one," the Red Sox manager said.

Cora, of course, was referencing the return of Eduardo Rodriguez. And if you truly want to look at it in the context presented by the manager then this was about as an important of an addition as any team could hope for. The starter was that good.

Making his first start since July 14, Rodriguez took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before finishing his 5 2/3-inning, one-run, three-hit outing in what would be a 6-1 Red Sox win over the White Sox Saturday night. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

"He was nasty, that's all I've got," said Rodriguez's catcher Christian Vazquez.

"There was a quiet confidence from him the last month," Cora said. "First of all that he was going to contribute. Felt like he knew probably the rest was going to help him and he was going to be this guy. He's been working on a few things. Like I told you guys in Philly I saw him from behind the plate and that was impressive, the movement and the sharpness of the pitches and the velocity. He was throwing the ball well before he got hurt. I don't want to say it's surprising for me but I do believe its not surprising for him, he has that quiet confidence. He turned the corner somewhere during the season and he's going to continue."

We've seen a semblance of this before from Rodriguez, such as one of those other times he flirted with a no-hitter almost exactly two years before in Oakland. But there seems to be a difference in comparing that pitcher we saw carry a no-no until two outs in the eighth inning against the A's on Sept. 4, 2016 to this one. Before and after that start Rodriguez was a roller coaster of productivity, living the extremes of good and bad.

This time it's pretty much all been good.

Over his last five starts -- which was obviously interrupted by an ankle injury -- Rodriguez has a 1.81 ERA and .194 batting average against. Until the sixth inning, he hadn't given up a run since June 29.

What has been a somewhat uncertain couple of weeks for the Red Sox' pitching staff seemingly was just hit with a surge of optimism. First was the image of Chris Sale throwing off a bullpen mound before the game, then came David Price tossing a baseball in preparation for what might be a start later in the week, and then there was Rodriguez.

It would still help to get better consistency out of Rick Porcello, and figure out what the Red Sox have in Nathan Eovaldi, but this was a pretty step forward for a team in a race to define itself in the coming weeks.

“If we're going to look at the positives, there were positives about that, he's fresh, he's fresh in September which is great," said Cora, whose starting pitchers were 10-8 with a 4.46 ERA in August. "He was throwing 94, 95 (mph), good finish, the fastball was outstanding. Seems like he didn't miss the mitt, for all the negatives about him being hurt and not pitching for us for a while, that's a positive of the whole thing."