PHILADELPHIA—Phillies manager Pete Mackanin rolled through six different lefthanded relievers while trying to find an effective option in 2016. He might have found one on his seventh try.
Joely Rodriguez came out of nowhere to earn a September callup and made the most of his chance. In 10 of his 12 appearances he allowed no runs, including one on Sept. 21 when he pitched the eighth inning and struck out Melky Cabrera of the White Sox on three fastballs that registered 96, 97 and 98 mph.
“He had a very impressive showing,” Mackanin said. “He put himself in the mix for next season.”
The Phillies acquired Rodriguez, 25, from the Pirates for Antonio Bastardo in December 2014. Rodriguez spent 2015 working mostly as a starter at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but his 6.12 ERA cost him his spot on the 40-man roster after the season.
Rodriguez opened 2016 in minor league camp and shifted to the bullpen. He struggled at Reading out of the gate and was demoted to high Class A Clearwater.
Rodriguez credited minor league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves and Clearwater pitching coach Aaron Fultz for suggesting a slight drop in arm angle, which produced enhanced velocity, command and confidence. He pitched his way back to Double-A then to Triple-A and eventually made his big league debut on Sept. 11.
In 53 games in the minors Rodriguez recorded a 2.35 ERA with 8.1 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings.
The move to the bullpen pushed Rodriguez’s fastball to 96-98 mph. He also throws a slider, which helps against lefties. He intends to spend the winter working on his changeup in the Dominican Republic.
“I am going to come to (spring training) like I never made the big leagues,” Rodriguez said. “My focus is to be consistent, make the team and stay here.”
• The Phillies honored veteran scout Roy Tanner with the team’s Dallas Green award for meritorious service.
• Outfielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in June, was held out of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League playoffs and instructional league with hip tightness. “He’s fine,” director of player development Joe Jordan said. “He’ll have a normal offseason and be ready for camp.”