Last Spring, I thought that Paco Rodriguez had earned himself a spot in the 2014 bullpen. Even after fizzling out at the end of the 2013 season and not even making it on the NLCS roster after serving up runs to Jason Heyward in the NLDS, Paco only appeared in 19 games for the Dodgers in 2014. He tried to battle back from likely overuse in the previous season when he pitched in 76 games (54 1/3 innings). Last year was definitely not the bounce back season Paco was looking for, and he will now have to battle it out with other left-handers in Spring Training like recently acquired Adam Liberatore, non-roster invitees David Huff and Ryan Bucther as well as Daniel Coulombe and Chris Reed.
Paco spent most of 2014 with the Triple-A Isotopes after starting off the season poorly. He came back in August and pitched in just one game before going down with a shoulder injury. The injury was the same one suffered by Clayton Kershaw at the beginning of the 2014 season.
After becoming the first player out of his draft class in 2012 to break into the majors, Paco impressed when he was brought up and in 2013. His glimmering 2.32 ERA in 2013 went alongside his other dominant stats like his 63 strikeouts (10.4 SO/9), and the fact that he’s only allowed 6 homeruns over 106 career games thus far.
Last year, spending most of his time in the minors, Paco went 2-3 with Albuquerque. He finished with a 4.40 ERA and 35 strikeouts with 17 walks over 28 2/3 innings in Triple-A.
If Paco can regain his form that he had in 2013, the Dodgers could really have a great lefty combo out of the pen with J.P. Howell. Perhaps with the additional reinforcements to the bullpen which the new front office regime has collected this offseason (Joel Peralta, Chris Hatcher, Joe Wieland), Don Mattingly can use Paco as a left-handed specialist instead of relying on him for longer outings because of the inconsistencies of the other relievers.
I have thought about how quickly Paco was thrust onto the Major League scene after barely pitching in the minors. He pitched extremely well considering that he was months removed from pitching for the Gators in college.
Paco has been a favorite Dodger of mine since I saw that quirky delivery back in 2012 which often fascinates me. He became an integral part of the Dodger bullpen during its shaky moments. Even though Paco had a somewhat disappointing season last year, I still see him as an important piece to this newly revamped Dodger roster. After all, Paco will still only be 24-years old in April.
Paco missed out on much of the 2014 season as far as being a part of the major league club, but 2015 could be an important year for Paco who almost has to prove himself again. The Dodgers need solid seasons from all their relievers both old and new in order to make up for the horrendously unreliable 2014. Paco Rodriguez could give the Dodger bullpen a boost as the second left-hander adding a more multi-faceted bullpen for Don Mattingly to work with.
That’ll do Paco. That’ll do.