The Pirates version of a big splash at the trade deadline this season was acquiring left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros. The Pirates thought so highly of the starter, they traded away three of their better prospects in outfielder Robbie Grossman and pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain.
Rodriguez got off to a rocky start with the Pirates, as he surrendered 15 runs in his first four starts, but has seemed to put the pieces back together recently. Since coming to Pittsburgh, the numbers were not adding up for Rodriguez, as he’s been one of the most consistent southpaws in the National League over the past several years.
In his past four seasons, Rodriguez’s ERA has been well under 4.00 and was notorious for keeping opposing batters off balance with a variety of pitches and speeds. Rodriguez was off to a similar start to the 2012 season before being traded to the Pirates. Through 21 starts with the Astros in 2012, Rodriguez owned a 3.79 ERA, but soon after being traded to Pittsburgh saw it rise to 4.06 after only three starts.
Since 2008, Rodriguez has seen a slight decrease in his strikeout numbers and 2012 has been the biggest drop off to date.
K/9 Inning Rate
With Houston in 2012, Rodriguez had a 6.1 k/9 rate and a 2.2 bb/9 rate. Although his strikeouts were down, his walk per nine inning rate was the best of his career. Through seven starts with Pittsburgh, Wandy has seen his k/9 rate fall even lower to 5.4 and bb/9 rate rise to 3.3.
The high number of walks and the lower number of strikeouts were uncharacteristic for Rodriguez, as it was just a matter of time before the lefty figured things out again.
Over his last three outings, Rodriguez has pitched 19.2 innings and has allowed three earned runs (all in same game). Thanks to that stretch of better pitching, Wandy’s 3.71 ERA is now lower than when he first arrived in Pittsburgh. Tuesday night’s game against his former team was the most impressive he’s looked since becoming a Pirate, as he pitched 7.0 innings, struck out seven and walked only one batter.
“Wandy was the guy we needed to be on and was, this is what I saw a lot in the five years that I saw him. After the first inning, he was very rhythmic, very on-tempo, very in-sync, very good outing again.” – Clint Hurdle on Wandy
It appears that Rodriguez is rounding back into form after a shaky start with the Pirates. After being in the same organization for over 11 years, it is quite feasible that it was natural for Rodriguez to go through an adjustment period. Could Wandy have been pressing and trying to impress his new teammates? Nobody knows, but whatever the case was, it seems to be cured for the time being.
Pirates management and players alike understand what Rodriguez brings to the table, after all they faced him 18 times over his career. Now it is time for Wandy Rodriguez to do what he does best, pitch and pitch consistently in an effort to get his new team into the playoffs.