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Emerging E-Rod could be third stud lefty

Following shaky season, 23-year-old is learning from Price, Sale
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- You've heard all about the damage two of the best southpaws in the game should do pitching in the same rotation. So imagine how good the Red Sox can be if a third left-hander with premium stuff can put it all together this season?

Chris Sale and David Price deserve their accolades and high-expectancy of performance. They've both been All-Stars five times.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- You've heard all about the damage two of the best southpaws in the game should do pitching in the same rotation. So imagine how good the Red Sox can be if a third left-hander with premium stuff can put it all together this season?

Chris Sale and David Price deserve their accolades and high-expectancy of performance. They've both been All-Stars five times.

View Full Game Coverage

But you might want to pay attention to Eduardo Rodriguez. A month away from his 24th birthday, and with two seasons now under his belt, Rodriguez appears primed for good things.

Pitching against most of the Nationals' projected starting lineup in Tuesday's 5-3 win, Rodriquez went three innings, allowing four hits and two runs and striking out two.

Those results are secondary to this fact: Rodriguez is pitching from the outset this spring.

His right knee is healthy. He is no longer tipping pitches. And he has a pair of studs to learn from.

Video: Rodriguez out to earn spot in rotation

"Most of the time I go straight to them and ask them how they execute a pitch, especially with Price and Sale, because they are lefties too and I ask them how they execute their changeup, their slider, the count," said Rodriguez. "Do they want to throw a certain pitch up or down with two strikes, stuff like that."

The reason this "stuff" matters so much is because Rodriguez has the stuff to be great. The final pieces of his development are consistent health and executing pitches with the precision that is needed to be one of the best.

"He's got probably as good a stuff as anybody in our rotation," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The potential is clearly there. He has shown flashes of it and stretches of that type of performance. Our job, including Eddie's, is for him to gain some consistency. He can be as big a winner as any other guy in our rotation."

After a solid rookie season in 2015 (10-6, 3.85 ERA), it went bad from the start last Spring Training for Rodriguez, as he sustained a subluxation of his right knee in the early portion of camp and wasn't himself until July.

And now?

"I feel really good because my knee is 100 percent, my shoulder is good," Rodriguez said. "I'm just thinking about throwing pitches right now and don't think about anything else, because everything feels really good. My velocity's there, my changeup is there, my slider is getting better. Now I can throw it slower than the last two years."

Even in the way Rodriguez is interacting with the media, he sounds more confident in his plan.

"My confidence is really good," said Rodriguez. "My pitches go right where I want them and my position to throw the ball is really good. My mechanics and everything is really good."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Eduardo Rodriguez