Colorado Rockies hoping for the rookie version of Dereck Rodriguez

DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning during game two of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 15: Dereck Rodriguez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning during game two of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Rockies are taking a low-risk flyer on starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez.

According to Gavin Kahn of EnterSports Management, free agent starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez has signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies which includes an invitation to spring training in 2021.

Rodriguez is back in the National League West after being designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants in August and spending the final month of the season with the Detroit Tigers, where he did not throw a single pitch in the big leagues.

At first glance, signing with the Colorado Rockies is a smart move for the 28-year-old right-handed pitcher looking to rebound after back-to-back disappointing seasons with the Giants.

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Rodriguez has made three appearances at Coors Field and had a great bit of success there. Across 14.1 innings, Rodriguez owns a 1.88 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just two walks. He allowed only one home run during that span.

It’s always a bonus for the Rockies to find a pitcher who seems to enjoy pitching at Coors Field, and it will be an even bigger bonus if Dereck Rodriguez can regain his rookie season form.

Seemingly coming out of nowhere back in 2018, Rodriguez made 19 starts for the Giants, going 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a .221 average against. He struck out just 18% of hitters and walked just over 7%, but he was able to avoid major damage by producing a near 40% groundball rate and allowing nine home runs in 118 innings.

Rodriguez quietly put together an impressive rookie debut, which was overshadowed by some pretty big NL rookies that year, like Ronald Acuna Jr. Juan Soto, and Walker Buehler. Rodriguez was worth 1.8 Wins above Replacement that season.

Unfortunately, it’s been a steep decline since. Rodriguez went 6-11 with a 5.64 ERA in 2019 and saw his strikeout rate drop to 16% and his walk rate increase to over 8%.

He logged just four innings in 2020, giving up six earned runs on 10 hits with three walks and two strikeouts before being DFA’d.

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In an offseason where every team will be looking to hit on a minor league signing or two to save a bit of money, the Colorado Rockies are hoping Dereck Rodriguez can be one of those hits. If he pitches like he did as a rookie, the Rockies will ecstatic.