As the Dodger lefty specialist out of the bullpen, 22-year old Paco Rodriquez successfully carved out a late inning role. In the dog days of summer when many players wear down, Rodriguez got stronger.
From June 7 through the first of September, the former 2nd round draft choice allowed only one earned run. He looked like the kind of pitcher who would shut down big boppers from the left side in the post season.
Then September hit.
In the post season, he’s allowed four hits, walked two, and surrendered a pair of runs while retiring only two batters.
Can the Dodgers afford to devote a roster spot to a pitcher who doesn't get guys out?
“Paco’s been through a little stretch,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It doesn't mean we lose confidence in him. I think the thing we love about Paco is it’s always professional. From day one, this guy is quiet. He goes about his business. He does all his work, and that’s what we pay attention to.”
Only once in his career has he given up more runs in a game than last night. Upon being summoned from the bullpen to end the game in the ninth, Rodriguez gave up a single to Reed Johnson with one out.
Left-hander Jason Heyward stepped to the plate and promptly smacked a line drive over the center field wall. A walk and a hit later, Rodriguez was mercifully removed from the game.
Mattingly defended Rodriguez and his 27.00 earned run average.
“(Catcher) A.J. (Ellis) said his stuff was good last night. He said it’s the best it’s been in a little bit….It doesn't kick Paco out of any plans. It just means he’s had some stuff going on with him as far as not getting outs.”
What do Mattingly and the Dodgers do from here with the pitcher?
“We make sure that we’re able to communicate with him," Mattingly offered. "He’s not going through something that anybody else hasn't gone through. It’s just that he’s going through it right now.”
Whether communication and consolation will be enough for Rodriguez to remain on the post season roster remains to be seen.
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