Eduardo Rodriguez

Sunday's Red Sox-Astros matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Lance McCullers

July 05, 2015 - 4:24 am
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Coming off of yet another impressive start by Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox will look to win their third consecutive series Sunday afternoon when they send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound against Lance McCullers and the Astros. After a set of lackluster starts in June, Rodriguez righted the ship in his latest start against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. In that outing he went six innings, giving up four hits and just one earned run to go along with four punchouts. Though he tossed 67 pitches in the previous start en route to a six-run implosion and a Red Sox loss vs. the Orioles on June 25, Rodriguez was on point at the Rogers Center, drawing a season-high 11 swinging strikes. Suspecting that Rodriguez might have been tipping his pitches against the Orioles, his teammates came to the rescue, helping him rebound for his next start. "The last time he pitched we all got on him because he was tipping his pitches really bad," David Ortiz said following the Sox'€™ win over the Blue Jays. "We know he has that great stuff, but when you start tipping pitches hitters start eliminating pitches so it'€™s easier to hit. So in his case [Clay] Buchholz, myself, Panda [Pablo Sandoval], everybody was pretty much trying to him some ideas for his next outing. He executed really well, worked hard on it and he wasn't tipping at all and that'€™s why he pitched the way he did tonight." Rodriguez has showcased dynamite raw stuff throughout his first month or so in the big leagues. He began his Red Sox career with two straight wins and 0.44 ERA through three starts. However, it did not take long for big league hitters to discover his tell, and once they did he spiraled into a horrendous three-start stretch in which opponents slashed .339/.382/.516 against him. Buchholz, no stranger to pitch-tipping himself, pinpointed Rodriguez's issue and gave him some pointers on how to correct it. "We watched video and showed him what was going on," Buchholz said after the Blue Jays game. "He had no idea that he was doing anything wrong or anything different on any one pitch. These last four days that'€™s all he'€™s been talking about is working on it. He'€™s been the hotel room in front of a mirror he'€™s been working on it. He did a good job on it today." Rodriguez heads into his matchup with the Astros bearing a laudable 4-2 record and a 3.92 ERA through seven major league starts. Opposing him for the Cinderellas of MLB will be Lance McCullers, a fellow rookie. McCullers, 21, is just one of a bevy of top-notch Astros prospects who has either already hit the big leagues or will within the next year or so. McCullers was drafted out of high school in Tampa, Florida, with the 41st overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft. As the son of former MLB pitcher Lance McCullers Sr., the right-hander seemingly has grown into expectations of big league success, and he has not disappointed thus far. Going into Sunday's game, McCullers sports a 4-2 record in nine starts with a 2.19 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He's no fluke, either, as he also owns a 2.63 FIP and a 9.8 K/9 rate, a result of his plus curveball. "It was pretty good tonight,'€ McCullers said of the pitch after his latest start, a 6-1 win over the Royals last Monday. "I made an adjustment after the third. When I was getting ahead I was kind of burying it, and they weren't really taking it. I wanted to get it more in the zone, so I had a lot of two-out contact on the curveball because I wanted to keep the pitch count down." McCullers has been downright dominant in his previous two starts, hurling 13 innings while accumulating 12 strikeouts and just two earned runs. His ERA over this stretch is a stingy 1.38 and opponents have been baffled to the tune of a .178/.269/.289 slash line. Though he has never faced the Red Sox, Boston hitters have smacked right-handed pitching well this season with a .263 team batting average and a league-best 0.49 BB/K ratio. Astros vs. Rodriguez (LHP) No Astros have faced Rodriguez. Red Sox vs. McCullers (RHP) No Red Sox have faced McCullers.

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