During the regular season, Paco Rodriguez was used at the end of games for the Los Angeles Dodgers because he was one of the better pitchers in those situations. Paco finished the season with a record of 3-4 and he managed 20 holds. His K/9 was a phenomenal 10.44 and he had a 2.32 ERA. Quality lefties are hard to come upon and at the age of 22, he turned into one immediately for the Dodgers.
When Los Angeles met the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, Paco was used early on in the series in those same exact late-inning moments that he performed well in during the regular season, but he was unable to duplicate the same success. Particularly, it was Jason Heyward who feasted on Rodriguez in their head-to-head at-bats during the NLDS. After struggling in both of the chances, Don Mattingly gave him in the NLDS. He was never used again that series and J.P. Howell was able to come out of the bullpen and do exactly what Paco was not only expected to do, but what he was unable to do. Rodriguez finished the NLDS with 0.2 innings pitched and he chalked up a team worse 27.00 ERA. I understand it’s a small sample size, but in the postseason, when you don’t perform well in the opportunities you get, you won’t get many more or anymore for that matter.
That is the exact case for Paco against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. Through the first six games of the series, Paco has not been called upon once. When Mattingly has needed a lefty, he went to Howell instead of Paco. I don’t expect that to change for the remainder of this series. If the Dodgers survive the NLCS and make the World Series, Paco may get a chance to make up for his terrible NLDS. But at this point, his string is so short that one more mistake may put him in Mattingly’s doghouse for the remainder of the postseason and that’s only if he’s not already there. All of this doesn’t mean Paco isn’t a good pitcher because that’s certainly not the case. Not everyone is meant for big moments right away in their career and the fact that Paco is only 22 years of age means he still has a lot of room for improvement. Rodriguez will be the Dodgers’ go-to lefty next season and the next time we see Paco in a postseason situation. He may very well make everyone forget all about his struggles he had to deal with in his first few postseason appearances.