Look into the annals of history of the Montreal/Washington franchise and Henry Rodriguez will not be known as a right-handed reliever during the 2012 season but a left-handed slugger who came out of nowhere* to bring Montreal baseball fans into a frenzy, including but not limited to littering the field with Oh Henry! chocolate bars after every homerun.
* He hit 36 homeruns in his first full season as a starter in 1996 after 21 in parts of four seasons prior to that. Note the year.
May 10, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez (left) and Washington Nationals catcher Jesus Flores (26) celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Washington Nationals won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
This Henry Rodriguez, who played for the 2012 Nationals had an up and down season and at 25 still has several years ahead of him in the Washington bullpen. Rodriguez was named the closer in Spring Training once Drew Storen went down with an injury. He was perfect in his first five save opportunities and then was hit with some bad luck and bad performances.
2012 Prediction (ZiPS): 3-2, 3.53 ERA, 53 games, 67.2 IP, 112 ERA+
2012 Actual: 1-3 (9 saves), 5.83 ERA, 35 games, 29.1 IP, 69 ERA+
Rodriguez first hit the DL in June after slamming his finger into the bathroom door. He eventually missed 24 games with that injury, then he came back and was dealing with some back pain. Eventually the back pain turned into bone chips in his right elbow and he underwent season ending surgery on Aug 31. He is expected to be back for Spring Training.
Rodriguez is ideally not the closer on the Nationals. With Storen healthy, and Ryan Mattheus and Tyler Clippard he would be a good middle man or late innings guy to spell the other three. GM Mike Rizzo believed that a lot of the performance issues that Rodriguez had were due to the nagging injuries he was pitching through and hopes that a healthy Rodriguez brings the Nationals back the guy who they thought would be their temporary closer because you could never have enough hard throwing relievers – just look at the Cardinals. Actually, wait until April to do that. Sorry.
Looking at Rodriguez’s numbers, the injuries really did play a toll and he never could recover from his struggles. If he can return to early-season form, the Nationals will be thrilled. The “bad” Rodriguez finished third in the National League in Wild Pitches with 10 despite not pitching for half of the season.
Season Highlight: Saving his first five straight opportunities would be his highlight in an otherwise poor season (hence why he’s covered in the first days of our review.)