While “change” may often be a feared term in the world of Major League Baseball, something needs to be done about a particular Nationals’ pitcher who continues to create headache in thousands of homes across the Washington, DC metro area. Who do I mean? Yes, you guessed it—Mr. Henry Rodriguez.
After Rodriguez had to be removed mid-way through the 9th inning of Monday’s 2-1 win against the Phillies, Nats’ manager Davey Johnson had seemed to somewhat come to terms with his pitcher’s shortcomings. H-Rod had given up a walk, a single and two wild pitches in just a third of an inning of that contest, but Johnson thought his pitcher with lightening speed could now thrive in a “less demanding role” than the closer position. Rodriguez has blown three saves and given up ten runs in a mere 19 innings of work this season, and Wednesday night, things did not get better for the young right-hander. H-Rod was put in during the 8th inning of a game that the Nats were already losing 3-0 to their NL East rival, and many thought the pitcher could settle down in this low-pressure situation. Unfortunately, the fans were wrong, as Rodriguez would give up a home run to Phillies’ outfielder Shane Victorino.
While we at District on Deck are getting extremely frustrated with Rodriguez’s recent performances late in ballgames, Davey seems to think things are bound to turn around for the pitcher now owning a 4.74 ERA through Wednesday’s contest. He told the Washington Post, “There’s a lot of battles to be won. He’s taking it pretty hard when he’s not successful. But he’ll be back. He’ll be all right.”
When’s enough enough? With the heart of the season rapidly approaching, the Nationals are going to need to win as many games as possible to stand firm atop the NL East standings. As of today, the Braves are only a game out of first and the Mets, Marlins and Phillies all remain close in what should be the closely contested division in all of baseball. Rodriguez clearly does not have control of his pitches, and the Nats cannot afford to keep testing him in different innings while concurrently risking each and every game he steps onto the mound. I think a vacation to Syracuse is much needed for H-Rod at this point in the season—let him prove himself in the minor leagues where the competition is nearly as strong. While I’m not sure what Davey will decide to do with his closer/set-up man/whatever in the coming weeks, I know without a doubt the Nats will continue to push on in what’s setting up to be a crazy season for our hometown club.