One Eddie Rodriguez isn’t enough. And hopefully, the Boston Red Sox feel the same way.
The 22-year-old lefty is everything the organization could have hoped for, and more, after acquiring him last season in a trade that sent lefty reliever Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles. Miller is now a dominant closer for the New York Yankees. Rodriguez is now the new No. 1 starter in the Red Sox' rotation.
After being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket last week, Rodriguez has been dominant in both starts he’s made for Boston. His first start resulted in 7.2 shutout innings with seven strikeouts in Texas. His second start resulted in seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts at Fenway against the Twins. Each start had a different catcher behind the plate. Both outings equally as impressive.
So what do you do if you’re the Red Sox front office after watching this, while also seeing the rest of the team thrive off of his calming, dominant mound presence?
Well, here’s what you don’t do. You don’t say, “That’s it. We found our guy. Our job is done here.”
Not that Rodriguez isn’t leading the way, because he most certainly is. And he has it all. He’s the total package. Thought it’s a small sample size, it seems you already know what you’re going to get from him. And that has to help the mindset of his own ball club.
But this should be a wake-up call to the Sox' front office, more than anything else. It should show them that dominant pitching is the key to success. When you have it, that takes a whole lot of pressure off your offense, especially when it's struggling like the Red Sox offense has.
Rodriguez’s success is no fluke. And instead of sitting back and letting him lead the way, the Red Sox need to build off the statement he has made. They need to go out and get another Rodriguez.
When I say “another Rodriguez,” I mean another dominant starter who can shut down opposing offenses on any given night. Whether that means giving 24-year-old southpaw Brian Johnson a call-up from Triple-A Pawtucket and seeing if his 2.60 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 10 starts this season can translate to Major League success, or even making a blockbuster trade for a top-of-the-rotation arm, there should be nothing stopping general manager Ben Cherington from being aggressive in the next few weeks.
A light should have went off in Cherington’s head by the third inning of Rodriguez’s MLB debut in Texas last week. He should have said to himself, “Wow, we need more of this.” Especially since the Yankees just got Masahiro Tanaka back from injury. And not only was Tanaka dominant in seven innings against the Seattle Mariners while recording nine strikeouts on just 78 pitches, but his velocity was reaching a career-high 96 mph into that seventh inning.
What should be done and what will be done may end up being two different things for the Red Sox. But if they're serious about building a winner, they’ll stay confident in the hitters they have, and will focus on bringing in another dominant starter, somehow, someway.
Because as good as Rodriguez is and will be, one of him just isn’t enough.
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