Jefry Rodriguez Could Fit In Big League Pen
One of the Indians' under-the-radar offseason acquisitions is 6-foot-6, 232-pound righthander Jefry Rodriguez.
The 25-year-old was acquired, along with outfielder Daniel Johnson, from the Nationals in the November trade in which the Indians sent catcher Yan Gomes to Washington.
Rodriguez has been used mostly as a starter during his minor league career, but with the Indians’ stacked rotation, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rodriguez is a potential candidate for the bullpen.
The Cleveland bullpen that ran through 16 different relievers last year, and it has taken a hit this offseason, losing both closer Cody Allen and all-star Andrew Miller to free agency. The Indians have traditionally been adept at constructing bullpens, when necessary, and it’s going to be necessary in 2019.
Last year, in a combined 19 starts at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, Rodriguez went 7-5, 3.40 with 102 strikeouts in 100.2 innings. That earned him short big league stints in June, July and August, plus the full month of September. In 14 games, eight of them starts, he recorded a 5.71 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 37 walks in 52 innings.
Rodriguez pitched more effectively out of the bullpen in the big leagues, but his control wavered regardless of role. He walked 6.4 per nine innings last year—and control has never been a strong suit.
"He has an above-average fastball and curve, with a developing changeup,” president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. "We think he can come into spring training with a chance to compete for a spot on our pitching staff. If he doesn’t win a spot, he adds to our upper-level pitching depth, and could be a contributor (on the big league club) this year.”
—The Indians’ top three affiliates will have new managers in 2019: Tony Mansolino at Triple-A Columbus, Rouglas Odor at Double-A Akron, and Jim Pankovits at high Class A Lynchburg.