Dodgers Bullpen: Paco Rodriguez Should Be Temporary Closer
After an impressive Spring Training, Don Mattingly said on SportsNet LA’s pre-game show “Access SportsNet” that Paco Rodriguez made the Opening Day Roster. Paco will be the second lefty in the Dodgers bullpen alongside J.P. Howell. Other relief pitchers to make the squad are Joel Peralta, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, Juan Nicasio and Pedro Baez.
Don Mattingly said that he would “close by committee, relying on matchups” while Kenley Jansen was on the disabled list. The Dodgers will only carry four starting pitchers, but they will need a fifth starter by April 13th or 14th when a spot starter could be called up (hello Joe Wieland).
Chris Hatcher may get the first shot at proving himself successful in the ninth inning for the Dodgers temporarily with Jansen out, but Paco Rodriguez may be an option to close out games as well. After all, Paco was a former closer for the University of Florida not too long ago.
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Paco has been dominant this Spring with a refined and smoother delivery. The lefty allowed just 4 hits with a dozen strikeouts and no walks in 10 1/3 innings pitched over 10 games this Spring. Paco is only 24-years old, and with the adjustments to his delivery, he has really been very effective so far in 2015.
Last season, Paco only pitched in 19 games for the Dodgers. Suffering from the same injury to the teres major muscle that disabled Clayton Kershaw in early 2014, Paco missed the end of last season. Now healthy and determined, the southpaw rightfully earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Paco could definitely be an important relief arm for the Dodgers this April. With Kenley Jansen and Brandon League out, the eighth and ninth innings will be interesting to say the least.
Paco Rodriguez’s Overall Season Statistics at the University of Florida
Paco was the first of his draft class to pitch in the majors. He made his MLB debut for the Dodgers on September 9, 2012. Steven Francis “Paco” Rodriguez was the closer for the Florida Gators, and he was integral in the Gators reaching the College World Series in three consecutive seasons giving him experience pitching in the final innings of high leverage games. Even though his college numbers don’t necessarily translate to major league stats, I’m still interested in looking at his progression as a professional pitcher.
Not only did Paco revamp his delivery motion, but he also retooled his diet. Instead of the delicious homemade Cuban food his grandmother made him, he turned to a more healthy diet spearheaded by Dodgers’ strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel. Paco was willing to make the leap from fried plantains to organic fare after being
"“I was very upset,” said Rodriguez, who was also left off the Dodgers’ 2013 National League Championship Series roster. “That really took a toll on me this off-season. And I thought a lot about it. That motivated me and gave me the extra drive to get healthy and get back to where I once was left off the NLDS roster last year.” Paco Rodriguez pitches for the Dodgers during Spring Training at Camelback Ranch. Photo: Stacie Wheeler"
The path to the majors was very short for Paco. After a frustrating hiccup of a season in 2014, it looks as though Paco is taking his 0.00 ERA into Opening Day 2015 as a member of the Dodgers bullpen. Even though his perfect ERA may not stand during the regular season, Paco has the opportunity to really make a significant impact on his team especially during the early part of the season when the late inning relief situation is murky for the Dodgers.
Paco has been a favorite of mine for a while, and I’m happy to see that he earned a spot on the Opening Day roster for the Dodgers. The early goings of the new season will be crucial for the Dodgers as they try to stay afloat without their No. 3 starter Hyun-jin Ryu and their two main late innings guys Kenley Jansen and Brandon League.
The bullpen cannot possibly be as inconsistent and unreliable as last season, and a healthy Paco will potentially pair up with J.P. Howell in the pen well as late-inning (or as needed when the situation warrants) lefties. Using Paco-or Chris Hatcher- or Joel Peralta- or Pedro Baez during high leverage situations whether in the ninth, eighth or earlier is always my preferred usage of the relief staff. A designated closer isn’t necessary of course, but Paco is certainly my pick to fill in for Kenley in the interim.
Paco in the postseason, pretty please.