SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants learned a lot about Dereck Rodriguez this year. Perhaps more importantly, Rodriguez learned a lot about himself.Rodriguez ended the season as a National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate after beginning it as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training whom the Giants had signed
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants learned a lot about Dereck Rodriguez this year. Perhaps more importantly, Rodriguez learned a lot about himself.
Rodriguez ended the season as a National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate after beginning it as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training whom the Giants had signed as a six-year Minor League free agent.
"He was available to anybody," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, almost in disbelief.
However, Rodriguez's effectiveness tailed off during the season's waning weeks -- including Saturday, when the Dodgers defeated the Giants, 10-6, and clinched a postseason berth. San Francisco achieved a rarity by scoring five runs in five innings off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but the club couldn't capitalize on this bonanza due to Rodriguez's struggles.
Rodriguez's three-plus-inning outing represented his shortest start as a Giant since June 9 at Washington, when he yielded five runs in 2 2/3 frames. He also surrendered five runs this time, matching a career high, and allowed six hits and walked three while striking out just one batter.
The 26-year-old right-hander permitted nine runs in nine innings over his last two games as his ERA rose from 2.30. to 2.81. The latter is still the lowest figure by a Giants rookie who pitched at least 100 innings since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
"I think it was just one of those days [when] I just didn't have my stuff," Rodriguez said. "I was just out there grinding it out, battling. They got the best of me. Hats off to them."
Rodriguez realized that he must build endurance to sustain the excellence he frequently displayed this season after the Giants summoned him from Triple-A Sacramento in late May.
"September," Rodriguez said, "is a whole different animal."
Hence, Rodriguez vowed to maintain a prowling tiger's intensity during his offseason workouts, enabling him to take another leap forward in his pitching prowess.
"I'm going to go into Spring Training like it was my first day when I showed up at Spring Training this year," Rodriguez said. "It's more of showing everybody what I did during the offseason to get ready for this season, more than anything."
Despite his unsteady finish, Rodriguez stood tall.
"I'm proud of the season I had, coming from where I was last year to having the season that I did this year," said Rodriguez, who was released by the Twins' organization. "Regardless of what happens, I am super happy about the way I threw the ball this year."
Rodriguez derived much more from his promotion to the Majors than he expected.
"I really thought I was just going to be up here for a couple of outings out of the bullpen," said the son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez. "I did my thing and changed a lot of people's minds."
PENCE FINISHING STRONG
Hunter Pence, who is finishing the season and perhaps his career with a spate of starts in the leadoff spot, rapped a pair of hits, scored twice and drove in a run.
Pence's mastery of the intangibles was more impressive than his boxscore line. Aboard via an RBI double with one out in the third inning, Pence correctly realized that left fielder Joc Pederson would not catch Joe Panik's sinking line drive (Statcast™ revealed that Pederson actually had an 80 percent chance of catching the ball but took an indirect route toward it). So Pence simply never stopped running and was on the heels of Gregor Blanco, who began the play on third base, as they scored.
Panik recorded his first multiple-RBI game since Aug. 12 and his first three-RBI game since July 25, 2017, against Pittsburgh. He's batting .254 overall but .318 (14-for-44) with one double, two homers and six RBIs in 12 games against the Dodgers this season.
Left-hander Andrew Suarez (7-12, 4.22 ERA) will conclude a promising rookie season when he confronts the Dodgers in the regular-season finale beginning at 12:05 p.m. PT on Sunday at AT&T Park. The Giants own a 12-16 record in Suarez's starts. His 130 strikeouts are the seventh most by a rookie in a single season since the Giants moved west in 1958. Suarez will oppose Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler (7-5, 2.76 ERA).
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.