One of the biggest free-agent signings in the off-season, Eduardo Rodríguez, looks to lead a staff as he will take the hill on Opening Day for his first start in a Detroit Tigers uniform.
The Detroit Tigers season in 2021 was distinct for several reasons, one of which was having two rookies in the starting rotation, which is so rare that the only time in team history that the Detroit Tigers had two starters throw over 100 innings and make at least 20 starts was in 1977 as the combo of Dave Rozema and Bob Sykes were the last to do it.
The reason that is important to mention is that with the young arms in the rotation of Mize, Skubal and Manning, the last thing the Tigers want to do is burn them out. They needed a proven veteran starter to help lead the staff in 2022. They wasted no time in going after Eduardo Rodríguez.
Eduardo Rodríguez’s contract status
Rodríguez’s contract is for five years at $77 million dollars with a player opt-out after two seasons. He can earn incentives for up to $3 million for the following:
- $1 million for 180 innings pitched in 2022, 2023, 2024 or $2 million for 360 innings across 2022-2023
- 10-team no trade clause. (per Spotrac)
He got the chance to reunite with his former pitching coach in Boston in Juan Nieves here in Detroit.
This was the first time since the Jordan Zimmermann deal that the Detroit Tigers spent to get one of the top free agent pitchers in the market.
Eduardo Rodríguez’s game
Rodríguez throws five different pitches. Two types of fastballs with his four-seamer and a cutter, a slider, change, and what is considered a sinker according to Baseball Savant. His four-seamer sets up his changeup well as his fastball generated a Whiff% of 31.3% and his change, 28.9% in 2021. In 2019, his four-seamer gave him a run value of -5 and with the change, -3.
Combine that with a slider that he tries to throw to the back foot of right-handers and he can change the batter’s eye level quick.
Here is the change on a right-handed batter.
This is a big reason behind why he is among the top 63% percentile in chase rate last season. He struck out 180 in 157.2 IP last season. Per Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press yesterday, he also added a slider that he said “he feels really good with it”.
2022 ZiPS projections
If he is healthy and can hit the ZiPS projections, he will, along with the rest of the Tigers’ pitching staff, keep them in contention for a playoff berth. His innings alone should ease the pressure of a young pitching staff.
As a fellow lefty, he provides that veteran experience to a fellow lefty like Skubal for perhaps what to throw in the count. They will need it against the AL Central, which will not be a slouch this season, thanks to free agent moves by both Chicago and Minnesota.