Francisco Rodríguez (Venezuelan pitcher)
Francisco Rodríguez during his tenure with the Angels
January 7, 1982 |
|September 18, 2002 for the Anaheim Angels|
(through 2014 season)
|Earned run average||2.73|
Career highlights and awards
He has pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2002 to 2008, and the New York Mets from 2009 to mid-way through the 2011 season where he pitched as the closer for both teams. He then pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers until July 2013, mostly in a setup role and the Baltimore Orioles the rest of 2013 before returning to the Brewers for 2014.
Rodríguez holds the major league record for saves in a single season, with 62, set in 2008. He is a three-time league leader in saves (2005, 2006, and 2008). Rodriguez is currently 10th on the all time saves list.
- 1 Professional career
- 1.1 Anaheim Angels / Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- 1.2 New York Mets
- 1.3 Milwaukee Brewers
- 1.4 Baltimore Orioles
- 1.5 Second stint with Brewers
- 2 Pitching style
- 3 Personal life
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Anaheim Angels / Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Rodríguez signed as an undrafted amateur free agent in 1998. Originally a starting pitcher, Rodríguez moved to relief pitching in 2002 after elbow and shoulder injuries shortened his 2001 minor league season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. In 2002, he made his major league debut. At the time, he was the youngest pitcher in the American League. Because of the multiple injuries to the Angels bullpen, the club brought him up during the middle of September. He emerged as a postseason relief hero, winning five postseason games despite never having won a Major League game before. Although he threw a lively fastball, his sharp-breaking curveball was his most effective pitch.
Because Rodríguez had played very little in the Major Leagues, hitters in the postseason had very little idea what to expect from him, a situation that often favors the pitcher. In the 2002 ALDS against the New York Yankees, he got two victories (with 1 win resulting from a blown save). The Angels won the division series against the Yankees in 4 games. During the 2002 ALCS vs the Minnesota Twins, he went 2–0 with seven strikeouts in four and one-third innings. The Angels won the ALCS against the Twins in 5 games. During the 2002 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, he had a 1–1 record with 13 strikeouts in eight and two-thirds innings. At 20 years, 286 days old, he became the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. The Angels won the World Series in 7 games.
In 2003, Rodríguez became a setup man. He gave up an earned run in 9 of his first 15 games, but rebounded to only allow 9 in his last 44 appearances. For the 2003 year, Rodriguez made 59 appearances going 8-3 with a 3.03 ERA.
In 2004, Rodríguez was selected for the All-Star Game. On August 24, 2004, he became the sixth pitcher in the Angels' 44-year history to strike out at least 100 batters in a season without starting a game — joining Mark Clear (105 in 1980), DeWayne Buice (109, 1987), Bryan Harvey (101, 1991), Troy Percival (100, 1996), and Scot Shields (109, also in 2004). He finished the 2004 year 4-1 with 123 strikeouts and a 1.82 ERA in 69 relief appearances.
2005: Transition to Closer
Entering the 2005 season, veteran Angels closer Troy Percival departed as a free agent which allowed Rodriguez to become the Angels' full-time closer. Rodríguez ended the season 2-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 66 relief appearances and tied the American League lead in saves with 45.
Rodriguez got his first 2 career postseason saves during the 2005 ALDS as the Angels won the division series against the Yankees in 5 games. He got one save in the 2005 ALCS until the Angels lost the ALCS to the Chicago White Sox in 5 games.
Rodriguez improved on his share of the 2005 American League saves title by leading the Majors in 2006 with 47 saves, one more than the National League leader Trevor Hoffman and six more than American League runner-up Bobby Jenks. On September 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he became the youngest closer in Major League Baseball history, at age 24, to accumulate 100 career saves. He accomplished this feat a year younger than the previous record holder, Gregg Olson.
At the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Rodriguez was named as one of three Angels to represent the club, along with teammates Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey. Rodriguez recorded the save as the American League defeated the National League, 5–4. Rodriguez finished the 2007 season 5-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 40 saves in 64 relief appearances.
In the 2007 ALDS, Rodriguez pitched only 1⁄3 of an inning with an ERA accumulating 54.00. The Angels lost the division series to the Red Sox in just 3 games.
2008: Single Season Saves Record
Rodríguez received his second career DHL Delivery Man of the Month Award after posting 11 saves in 12 appearances during the month of June. Rodríguez set a major league record by recording his 35th save before the All-Star Break, breaking the previous record of 34 set by John Smoltz in 2003. He was a member of the American League All-Star Team for the third time and made a brief appearance in the game, facing two batters while walking one. On August 20, 2008, he set both his and the Angels single season record with his 48th save. With his 50th save on August 24, 2008, Rodríguez became the first relief pitcher to reach that number since Mariano Rivera in 2004 and the ninth overall. He was also the youngest pitcher to ever reach that number at 26 years, 7 months, and 17 days. In addition, he reached that milestone in 129 team games, faster than any pitcher in history. With three saves during the week of August 18–24, including the milestone of number 50, Rodríguez was awarded the American League Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
On September 2, 2008, Rodríguez saved his 200th career game (54th of the season), becoming the youngest player in history to reach that number. On September 10, 2008, while facing the New York Yankees, Rodríguez saved his 56th game of the season and clinched the American League Western Division title for the Angels. On September 11, 2008, while facing the Seattle Mariners, Rodríguez saved his 57th game of the season, tying Bobby Thigpen's 1990 major league record.
On September 13, 2008, while again facing the Mariners, Rodríguez recorded his 58th save of the season, setting a new MLB record. On September 20, 2008, Rodríguez became the first pitcher to reach 60 saves in a season when he closed out a 7–3 victory against the Texas Rangers.
Rodríguez finished his record-setting 2008 regular season performance with 62 saves in 69 opportunities, appearing in an AL-leading 76 games. It was his fourth consecutive season of recording at least 40 saves. He finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting.
The Angels again faced the Red Sox in the 2008 ALDS. Rodriguez lost a game and the Angels would lose the series to the Red Sox in 4 games.
New York Mets
On December 10, 2008, Rodríguez signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the New York Mets. Rodríguez, who had worn number 57 for his entire career, switched to number 75, as Mets ace Johan Santana wore number 57 at the time. On April 6, 2009, Rodríguez recorded his first save as a Met against the Cincinnati Reds.
He was selected to play in the 2009 All-Star game and pitched a scoreless 9th inning.
On September 30, 2009, Rodríguez surrendered a walk-off grand slam to Justin Maxwell to cap a five-run ninth inning that lifted the Washington Nationals to a 7–4 victory over the Mets. This made him the first pitcher to allow two walk-off grand slams in one season since Lee Smith did in 1995 (on August 7, Rodriguez surrendered a grand slam to Everth Cabrera with no outs to cap another five-run ninth inning that gave the San Diego Padres a 6–2 win over the Mets).
Rodríguez finished the 2009 season 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA and 35 saves converted out of 42 opportunities. It was his fifth consecutive season of 30 or more saves.
During his suspension-shortened 2010 season, Rodriguez appeared in 53 games going 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 25 saves.
Rodriguez started the 2011 season with 42 relief appearances going 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves.
Rest of 2011
On July 12, 2011, immediately following the All-Star Game, Rodríguez was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with cash, for Adrian Rosario and Danny Herrera. The Associated Press noted the Brewers had two potential closers in Rodríguez and their existing closer, John Axford. Rodríguez expressed his unhappiness in September to being used as the setup man to Axford. Axford finished the season with a streak of 43 consecutive save opportunities converted. In 31 games for the Brewers, Rodríguez was 4–0 with a 1.86 ERA. Overall for the 2011 season, he was 6–2 with a 2.64 ERA in 73 appearances. He had 23 saves, all with the Mets. Through 2011, he was 4th of all active pitchers in career saves (291) and games finished (445), and 8th in fielding percentage (.970).
Rodriguez made 2 appearances in the 2011 NLDS vs the Arizona Diamondbacks and struck out four. The Brewers won the series against the Diamondbacks in 5 games. He appeared in 3 games of the 2011 NLCS vs the St. Louis Cardinals. His ERA during the series was 3.00 and his new team of the Brewers would eventually lose the series to the Cardinals in 6 games.
In January 2012, Rodríguez signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Brewers through arbitration. The Brewers again planned to have Rodríguez and Axford in the bullpen, shifting between the two depending on who has been struggling of late. In 2012, Rodriguez made a career high of 78 relief appearances going 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA and only 3 saves.
On October 29, 2012, the Brewers granted Rodriguez free agency. They re-signed him to a minor league deal on April 17, 2013 worth $2 million plus incentives if he makes the Brewers. Rodriguez started the 2013 season appearing in 25 games going 1-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 10 saves.
Rest of 2013
On July 23, 2013 Rodriguez was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league prospect Nick Delmonico. Rodriguez struggled in his Orioles tenure, posting a 4.50 ERA in 23 appearances with the team.
Second stint with Brewers
2014 season: Climbing the All Time Saves List
Rodríguez signed a one year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on February 7, 2014. Rodriguez was named the Brewers closer to start the 2014 season. Rodriguez began the season showing signs of returning to All-Star form, not allowing a single hit and earning 4 saves in his first 6 appearances of the season. On April 19 in a win versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, Rodriguez earned his 310th career save, his 6th of the season, which tied him with Goose Gossage for 20th on the all time save list. The next day on April 20, Rodriguez earned his 311th career save in another win versus the Pirates. With this save he passed Gossage, and tied Tom Henke for 19th on the all time saves list. Yet another day later on April 21, Rodriguez earned his 8th save of the season and the 312th of his career in a win versus the San Diego Padres, putting him alone at 19th on the all time saves list. Only two days later on April 23, Rodriguez earned his 9th save of the season in a 5-3 win over the Padres, giving him 9 straight saves without allowing a single run to start the season. Just two more days later on April 25, Rodriguez recorded his 314th career save, his 10th of season, in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. With this save, Rodriguez tied Robb Nen for 18th on the all time saves list. The very next day on April 26, Rodriguez picked up his 315th career save, his 11th of the season, in another win over the Cubs, which put him alone at 18th place in the all time saves list. Rodriguez would quickly pick up 2 more saves and would tie the record for most saves in the month of April with 13. Rodriguez would also give up only 7 total hits and no runs in 16 April appearances.
Rodriguez got his first save of the new month on May 2, picking up his 318th career in a 2-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. With this save, Rodriguez tied Rick Aguilera for 17th on the all time saves list. Rodriguez picked up career save number 319 on May 10, putting him in a tie with Todd Jones for 16th on the all time saves list. This save also gave Rodriguez 15 straight saves without allowing a single run to start the season. The next day on May 11, Rodriguez blew his first save and gave up his first earned run of the season, a solo home run with two outs and two strikes in the 9th to New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. However, the Brewers would go on to win in the bottom of 9th on a walk-off single by Mark Reynolds, giving Rodriguez the win. Another two days later on May 13, Rodriguez earned his 320th career save, putting him alone at 16th on the all time saves list. The next day on May 14, Rodriguez earned his first loss of the season, giving up 3 runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the top of the 9th, in a game that was tied 1-1. On May 16, Rodriguez tied José Mesa for 15th on the all time saves list with his 321th career save in a victory over the Cubs. On May 26, Rodriguez blew his second save of the season, giving up two earned runs to his former club the Baltimore Orioles, blowing a 6-4 lead. The Orioles would go on to lose 7-6 in 10 innings. However the next night on May 27, Rodriguez would pitch a perfect top of the 10th, and would get his second win of the season as this time it would be the Brewers who would win 7-6 in 10 innings.
After not getting a save opportunity for 10 days, Rodriguez earned career save 322 on June 5, passing Mesa for 15th on the all time saves list.
Rodriguez began to falter more in June, however, as he began the month of June allowing 7 runs (all earned) in 7 innings. Rodriguez suffered a loss against the Reds on June 13 when he entered into a tie game in the ninth, allowing what went on to be the winning run. The Brewers did not score in the bottom of the inning. Rodriguez would rebound the next however, allowing the Reds no hits and earning his 21st save of the season.
On June 17, Rodriguez earned his 326th career against the Arizona Diamondbacks, tieing him with Roberto Hernández for 14th on the all time saves list. Two days later on June 19, Rodriguez earned career save 327, his 23rd of the season, putting him alone at 14th on the all time saves list. On June 22, Rodriguez picked up career save 329 against the Colorado Rockies, tieing him with Francisco Cordero for 13th on the all time saves list. Three days later on June 26, Rodriguez picked up his 330th career save, passing Cordero and tieing Rodriguez with John Wetteland for 12th on the all time saves list. On June 28, Rodriguez picked up his 331th career save, his league high 27th of the season, against the Rockies, putting Rodriguez past Wetteland for 12th on the all time saves list.
On July 6, Rodriguez was selected as an All Star for the 5th time in his career, and the first time since 2009.
On August 15, Rodriguez recorded his 341th career save, also his league leading 37th save of the season, tying him with baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers for 11th on the all time saves list. The next night on August 16, Rodriguez picked up his 342nd career save, putting him past Fingers for 11th on the all time saves list.
On September 20, Rodriguez recorded his 347th career save, tieing him with Randy Myers for 10th on the all time saves list. On September 27, Rodriguez recorded his 348th career save, also his 44th and last of the season, putting him alone at 10th on the all time saves list.
Rodriguez finished his strong 2014 campaign posting a 5-5 record with a 3.04 ERA, 73 strikeouts, and converting 44 saves in 49 opportunities.
Rodríguez throws four pitches. He came up throwing a hard four-seam fastball that averaged 95 mph in 2007, but has settled in the 91–94 mph range through the 2012 season. He also throws a two-seam fastball at 90–93 mph. His off-speed pitches are a curveball at 76–79 mph and a changeup at 82–85 mph. He uses his changeup more against left-handed hitters. It has a whiff rate of 48% since 2007, the third-highest among all changeups thrown by relief pitchers.
Rodríguez's nickname of "K-Rod" became popular during the 2002 playoffs. It is a take-off on "A-Rod," the nickname of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, with "K" representing the common abbreviation for strikeout. Rodríguez is a practitioner of the Santería religion. Rodríguez has competed in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Venezuelan team with his former teammate Johan Santana. Rodriguez has 5 children.
On June 13, 2009, New York Yankees reliever Brian Bruney criticized Rodríguez, calling his antics on the mound "unbelievable" and saying that Rodriguez has "got a tired act," after seeing his reaction to earning a blown save in 2009 against the Yankees where teammate Luis Castillo dropped a pop-up with two outs in the ninth inning allowing the Yankees to score the winning run. Rodríguez responded by saying "somebody like that, it doesn't bother me," and suggesting that Bruney "better keep his mouth shut and do his job, not worry about somebody else. I don't even know who the guy is. I'm not going to waste my time with that guy. Instead of sending messages through the paper, next time when you see me at Citi Field, come up to me and say it to my face." During batting practice the following day Rodríguez confronted Bruney on the field, pointing and shouting at him before teammates from both sides separated the two.
In May 2010, Rodríguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann got into a heated exchange while the pitcher was preparing to enter a game. Mets manager Jerry Manuel later said the matter was resolved, without saying what caused the dispute.
On August 11, 2010, Rodríguez was arrested after allegedly assaulting Carlos Pena, the father of his girlfriend Daian Pena after the Mets lost a game at Citi Field. Rodríguez was reportedly upset that he made disparaging remarks about Rodríguez's mother. Rodríguez remained in police custody at Citi Field on a charge of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor in the state of New York, and was arraigned that afternoon. He was released without bail, and ordered by a judge to stay away from his girlfriend and her father. The Mets suspended him and placed him on the team's restricted list for two days, which meant he would forfeit two games' salary. "Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco's inappropriate behavior and we take the matter very seriously," team chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. Rodríguez suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb, possibly during the altercation, requiring season-ending surgery. The Mets put Rodríguez on the disqualified list, intending not to pay him until he was physically able to perform. On September 22, 2010, Rodriguez was back in Queens Criminal Court facing seven counts of criminal contempt after sending numerous text messages to Daian Pena in violation of the order of protection. The judge imposed bail of $7,500, which Rodriguez posted.
Rodriguez was charged with domestic violence in Wisconsin relating to a September 17, 2012 incident in which he allegedly hit and kicked the mother of his child. He was facing a fine of $10,000 and/or up to 9 months in prison. Charges were subsequently dropped against Rodriguez when the victim and the eyewitness (housekeeper) both returned to Venezuela and did not respond to the district attorney on the case.
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