On 5-year anniversary of his MLB debut, reflecting on Eduardo Rodriguez's career

Rob Bradford
May 28, 2020 - 11:27 am
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When we last saw Eduardo Rodriguez he was walking off the mound at Charlotte Sports Complex, having made the final spring training start of any Red Sox pitcher on March 11.

Rodriguez dominated throughout his shortened 2020 Grapefruit League, striking out 20 batters in his 11 innings while giving up just two runs. Coming off a 19-win 2019, it certainly seemed like the lefty was on the path toward stardom.

Thursday we woke up to a reminder from Rodriguez regarding the path he has taken, with the pitcher celebrating the five-year anniversary of his first start in the big leagues.

One of the best #tbt I can post today is 5 years ago today I made my dream come true MLB debut --------------------. Uno de los mejores #tbt que puedo publicar hoy es hace 5 años hoy hice realidad mi sueño debutar en MLB --------------------

A post shared by Eduardo Rodriguez (@eduardorjose) on

The images of that debut in Texas should bring back a lot of memories. For one, how good his first start was, allowing no runs on three hits over 7 2/3 innings. He would go on to surrender just one run over his first 20 1/3 frames as a big leaguer.

It should also remind us of what a good trade Ben Cherington made to get Rodriguez, trading a rental reliever in Andrew Miller to the Orioles for the then-Double-A southpaw.

The anniversary is an opportunity to understand how difficult it can be to develop top of the rotation pitchers. Up until his breakout in 2019, Rodriguez was a roller-coaster when it came to results. Going on to battle injuries, pitch-tipping, and pitch efficiency problems from 2016-18.

Perhaps that 2018 postseason, in which he performed admirably the Red Sox' Game 4 starter in the World Series -- after serving as a reliever in his previous six outings during that playoff run -- that put him over the top.

Whatever the impetus for the consistency, Rodriguez seemingly found his groove for good after two rough outings to begin 2019. From that point on he became an every-fifth-day weapon for the Sox, finishing the season having made 34 starts while pitching the 10th-most innings (203 1/3) of any starter in the big leagues.

And if there is an Opening Day Red Sox starter in 2020, Rodriguez is going to be that guy.