Paco Rodriguez Should Be The 8th Inning Reliever


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Wilson is a good pitcher.

Brian Wilson will be a good pitcher this season.

He was horrible last night, granted. It was a complete and utter dumpster fire of an 8th inning, I’m not saying to give up on him, but yeah, he was bad.

Of course though,  I have no doubts about his ability to be an above average relief pitcher for the Dodgers, he’s quirky, funny, interesting. He’s closed out a world series, and has numerous reasons to have been the closer for the San Francisco Giants all those years.

Pretty accomplished guy, right? And yet despite all of this, he really shouldn’t be the setup man this season for the Dodgers.

Yep, I’m aware of the great 13.1 innings he had as a member of the 2013 Dodgers. That 0.66 ERA looked good for awhile That 2.02 FIP was nice, but that was in the before times, a 13.1 inning sample size can bring about some wacky, wacky things. No one in baseball is going to sustain the run prevention skill that Wilson showed late last season, so that ERA is pretty fluky. Do I think he’ll be a good relief pitcher? Of course, but I’m sure Giants fans can explicitly tell you how wild Wilson gets, because control historically has been a mediocre skill for him in, order for Wilson to have good run prevention numbers, he needs to have a large stand rate, and if you’re a relief pitcher, sample sizes (there’s that phrase again) can often make you look horrible over the course of a season.

So is a pitcher who has only thrown 16.2 innings in the last 3 seasons (not forgetting that he has looked really, really, really bad in at least 4 of those frames) the best option right now? Well the answer should be no.

For the record, the meltdown last night isn’t the reason he shouldn’t be the setup man, however the meltdown last night brought attention to a conversation that needs to be had. Paco Rodriguez should be the Dodgers 8th inning reliever.

Paco Rodriguez is really good at baseball, he’s the Dodgers’ best non-Kenley Jansen reliever. His strikeout per 9 innings is a dominant 10.3 for his career. He’s the anti-Wilson in that he comes into jams constantly and “cleans up”, last night was a prime example of this. We all remember last season where he was a great reliever up until September (where he was clearly overworked by Don Mattingly). And we all wondered what was wrong. Daniel Brim’s great piece on his mechanics shed some light on his issues (probably a side effect of his workload). And it seems, according to Brim, his mechanics are in order.

Paco has this calmness about him that really stuck with me last season, more specifically August 5th of last season when the Dodgers took the first game of a crucial 4 game set versus the Saint Louis Cardinals when Jansen was unavailable, and Paco set down the heart of a very good Cardinals lineup, it was probably the biggest game of the year up to that point, especially without Hanley Ramirez. So there’s no question that he can pitch in big games.  Combine that with his superb run prevention skill (2.17 era for his career), and I really think Paco should get the nod over an otherwise solid Brian Wilson.

There’s nothing wrong with Wilson, and he’ll certainly be a good reliever this season. I just think Paco as the 8th inning reliever gives the Dodgers the best chance to win as many games as possible.