Recently-signed left-hander JC Romero was sent to AAA Syracuse after Friday’s exhibition game against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park. The move was made to give Romero more time to prepare, and paved the way for Henry Rodriguez to fill the final spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
Was it the right move?
Rodriguez could, albeit, start the season on the disabled list as the Nationals try and preserve their high-promise arm, but it may be time for the team to move Rodriguez elsewhere. While the potential is certainly there in Rodriguez’s electric arm, he’s too inconsistent to pitch for a team with their sights set on a deep October run.
It’s obvious that the Nationals don’t want to just let Rodriguez go, because at 26 there is still time for him to harness his untapped potential
Rodriguez finished 2012 with a 6.8 BB/9 walk rate, a number that was actually up by .6 from 2011. While Rodriguez did cut down his wild pitches from 14 (which led MLB) in 2011 to 10 in 2012, his overall command did not improve. I don’t doubt he can turn it around, just not in time to benefit the Nationals.
At this point, it’s worth giving Rodriguez a few chances to see how he does. But the Nationals need to give him a very short leash, and consider fielding calls to gauge interest in him from other clubs. If a team that has no winning agenda this season, like the Houston Astros, is willing to give Rodriguez the necessary innings and attention he’ll require to improve, perhaps the Nationals could get a half-decent return. Half the reason Rodriguez is on the roster is because he’d have to be exposed to waivers if the Nationals send him to AAA, and they don’t want to just give him up. But if they could get some sort of return instead, perhaps they’d be more inclined.
Again, Rodriguez is very talented when he brings his A-game. That just doesn’t happen often enough, and with the bullpen depth the Nationals have, suffering through the growing pains unfortunately isn’t worth it.