The Pittsburgh Pirates‘ rotation got better on Monday when they placed lefty Wandy Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. To replace him on the roster, the team recalled reliever Jared Hughes from Triple-A. Due to Rodriguez’s early performance, it is certainly fair to question whether or not the lefty is truly hurt or if the Pirates are simply using his trip to the DL to try and fix his mechanics.
Rodriguez missed most of the 2013 season with left-arm tightness and arthritis in his left elbow. I’m no doctor, but arthritis doesn’t seem like a condition that goes away. Because of the extent of his health issues last season, no one could have expected Rodriguez to pitch as well this season as he has throughout his very good career. However, no one could have expected it to be this bad. In 20 innings, the 35-year-old lefty has a 7.65 ERA.
Even more concerning than his early-season struggles is his decrease in velocity. His fastball, which was never overpowering, is down 1.3 miles per hour from last year, averaging just 88 mph. The veteran left-hander has said that he doesn’t have his usual elite command of the strike zone, admitting that he is leaving fastballs up in the zone on a regular basis.
The Pirates won’t need to make a move to recall a starting pitcher to take Rodriguez’s spot until Thursday. Some obvious options to take his spot in the rotation include 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton. At this point, though, it really doesn’t matter who it is; they will undoubtedly outperform the deteriorating Rodriguez.