K-Rod's stellar stretch puts value on display
Close delivers ninth straight scoreless outing in Tuesday's win
MILWAUKEE -- In closing the Brewers' 3-2 win over the Mets with a perfect ninth inning on Tuesday, Francisco Rodriguez logged his 14th save in as many chances and lowered his ERA to 1.04. It's the sort of run that often leads veteran closers on teams 20 games under .500 to find themselves pitching elsewhere by the nonwaiver Trade Deadline.
Rodriguez, a bright spot for the 26-46 Brewers, hopes that doesn't happen.
"I'd be disappointed if I get traded," Rodriguez said, "because I signed two years plus [a club option for 2017] just to be here. If I didn't believe this ballclub would be better and compete in the future, I would have gone someplace else. ...
"But definitely, it [the possibility of a trade] is there. You have to think about it, unfortunately. But I'm not putting too much pressure on thinking about it because it is going to be bad if I do that."
Rodriguez's success this season -- "dominant" was manager Craig Counsell's adjective of choice -- is impressive considering his inconsistent workload. Tuesday marked Rodriguez's ninth consecutive scoreless appearance, which in a good season might cover two weeks, but in this instance spans more than three (beginning May 31). It was his first save opportunity in 12 days. He threw 15 pitches and struck out a pair of batters in a 1-2-3 inning.
Rodriguez requires regular work to feel strong. This season, it has been difficult to get.
"We are almost to July and I don't feel like I'm there yet as far as arm strength," he said. "It looks like it is going to be 50 outings in a year. I'm used to 70-plus every year."
The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is a bit more than five weeks away, and Rodriguez has already been dealt twice at that time of year -- in 2011 from the Mets to the Brewers, and in 2013 from the Brewers to the Orioles. With three small children, the last trade was tough, Rodriguez admitted. He had a 4.50 ERA in Baltimore.
He is earning a $3.5 million salary this season and is due $7.5 million for 2016, with a $6 million club option for 2017 that has a $2 million buyout. Rodriguez turned 33 in January.
"We keep searching for answers every day in the clubhouse," Rodriguez said of the Brewers. "If you look at us right before the game, the energy, the attitude, everything is there. When we go out there, things aren't clicking in.
"We need to find a way to go out there and have fun. It doesn't seem like we are having fun out there. Every time we don't make a play the game is over to us because we put our head down. We're not fighting like we are supposed to do. That's something we need to find a way to get better at to get better results overall."