3. Richard Rodriguez
Richard Rodriguez, another former Pittsburgh Pirate, has quietly been a solid, underrated relief pitcher since the 2018 season. Rodriguez, 31, has never had an ERA over 3.72 in a full season, has experience as a closer (14 saves in 2021) and has a career WHIP of 1.127 – a number that is nothing to scoff at.
Rodriguez heavily relies on his fastball and has continuously been known to limit baserunners. His strikeout numbers have dipped quite a bit as he has aged (11.4 SO/9 in 2018 and 13.1 in 2020, only 5.9 in 2021) which could be viewed as alarming but his numbers as a whole have not faltered.
Also one to limit walks and home runs, Richard Rodriguez is a durable relief pitcher who is capable of filling multiple roles be it middle relief, setup or even closing games. He was one of Pittsburgh’s top trade chips at the deadline this season and while there was widespread interest, the Atlanta Braves are the one that landed the righty.
Upon joining the Braves, Rodriguez saw almost every statistic to his name trend dramatically downward which is somewhat concerning. In 26 innings as a Brave, Rodriguez sported a FIP of 6.17 and struck out only nine batters, walking five. His hits per nine innings and home runs per nine innings spiked as well. However, looking at his career statistics, there’s reason to believe that he is a good bounce-back candidate for 2022.
Richard Rodriguez is a low-risk relief option that many teams will take a look at this offseason. He can be had at a low-cost and is capable of putting up solid numbers. Best case scenario, he makes his way on to a club where he can contribute as a successful closer. Worst case scenario, he continues to struggle as he did in Atlanta and his new team can easily cut ties without being on the hook for a significant financial hit.