According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Washington Nationals have acquired veteran reliever Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to a minor league contract after he was released by the Detroit Tigers on Friday.
Rodriguez has had no shortage of struggle in 2017. The pitcher’s ghastly 7.82 ERA in 28 appearances is the third-worst in the MLB among qualified relievers. Rodriguez is also allowing a career high in home runs off of his fastball with 21.4 percent, and a career low 30.1 ground-ball percentage.
However, the Nationals bullpen has been the highlight of the team’s recent struggles. A combination of bad outings and injuries makes their nine game divisional lead any less comfortable than analysts suggest.
Is this the Nats best move?
The current trade market for reliever is scarce, to say the least. That being said, the Nationals are tampering their expectations of what the 35-year-old veteran can bring to their ailing bullpen. However, if he can find the form that allowed him to succeed a year ago, this could be the move that puts the Nationals in contention.
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Since the Nationals parted ways with closer Mark Melancon last season, they’ve had a hard time filling his role. Koda Glover filled the role primarily, but has yet to find his stride. Glover’s made 23 appearances in 2017, recording a 5.12 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and two blown saves.
In contrast, this is the first season in Rodriguez’s career in which he has recorded an ERA over five. The last time he came close was in 2012 when he was in Milwaukee. That season, K-Rod still recorded nine strikeouts per nine innings and left 69 percent of runners stranded on base.
If Francisco Rodriguez can become anything close to the pitcher he was while with the Angels, the Washington Nationals bullpen just got a serious upgrade. Either way, a veteran presence in the back of their bullpen is something to cherish as they make a push for October.