On Friday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates received some news that was both good and bad. Left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez informed the Pirates that he has exercised his player option for the 2014 MLB season.
Rodriguez, when healthy, is extremely consistent and effective. He doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he has complete command of the strike zone. He can throw any of his pitches — curveball, changeup and fastball — wherever he wants with pinpoint accuracy. While he is small in stature at just below 6-feet tall, Rodriguez pitches with a ton of confidence and isn’t afraid to pitch inside.
In fact, he pounds the inside corner of the strike zone against both right-handed and left-handed hitters. Injuries really hurt Rodriguez’s season in 2013, limiting him to just 62.2 innings. In 12 starts, he went 6-4 with a 3.59 ERA. He didn’t strike many batters out, posting a 6.61 K/9, but he also limited his walks to just 1.72 BB/9.
Even though Rodriguez is a very good pitcher, there are also several reasons why the Pirates should feel uneasy about him exercising his option. The option is worth $13 million, but the Houston Astros, his former team, will be paying $5.5 million of that. When healthy, Rodriguez is a bit of a bargain on what is essentially a one-year, $7.5 million deal, but his biggest question going into 2014 is his health.
It sounds like he will be healthy next season, or at least heading into the season, but will he be as effective after his injury? First of all, does anyone even know what exactly was wrong with him? Reports surfaced that he has arthritis in his left elbow and that could be a legitimate issue moving forward, but he went on the disabled list with forearm discomfort.
If the Pirates are lucky, Rodriguez will return from his injury and pitch as well as he had throughout his entire career. Unfortunately, it seems more likely that he won’t be the same pitcher ever again. He may not be horrible, but I don’t think he will ever be the Rodriguez from prior to 2013 going forward.