After Henry Rodriguez gave up a walk-off home run to Rod Barajas last Tuesday night, it has led some to believe whether or not Rodriguez should be the Nationals closer.
Personally, I think that Rodriguez has what it takes to become the Nationals closer. While he has blown two saves this season, he is tied for sixth in the NL with six total saves.
Rodriguez has a fastball that can hit 101 on the radar gun. What's not to love about that? At times, he does miss his location and hitters will make contact with it. But, it is very difficult to catch up to something moving 101 MPH.
Rodriguez's biggest enemy can also become his best friend. He's got a slider that falls right off the table just before it gets to the plate. We saw him throw two wild pitches on Tuesday night with it just before he gave up the home run.
The way that pitch can also become his best friend is the fact that when it comes out of his hand, it's easy to read it as a fastball. Hitters will swing right where it's going, but it won't be there as it will drop.
The problem, however, is consistency. When Rodriguez's slider doesn't work from the get go, he tends to rely on his fastball and becomes a one pitch pitcher. Then batters will sit on his fastball and will be ready when it comes.
If Rodriguez can figure out a way to be more accurate, consistent, and have more faith in his slider, he can become one of the premier closers in the game. His biggest problem facing him is avoiding becoming a one pitch pitcher.
Statistically, Rodriguez is near the top of the NL in a few major categories. He has 17 strikeouts and has given up just seven hits. He has a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) of just 1.11.
Already, Rodriguez is intimidating out of the bullpen thanks to his 101 MPH fastball. If he can manage to control his slider, he'll be the closer the Nationals have been looking for since Chad Cordero left.
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