Reliever Richard Rodríguez is currently on a historically good stretch of appearances out of the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Despite coming off a poor series as the Pittsburgh Pirates were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, through the first month of the 2021 season the bullpen has been a strength for the Pirates. One of the main driving forces behind the bullpen being a strength has been the work of right-handed reliever Richard Rodríguez.
In Sunday afternoon’s 3-0 loss against the Red Birds the Pittsburgh Pirates summoned Rodríguez for his lone appearance of the series. In his lone inning of work Rodríguez did what he has done most of the season by retiring the Cardinals in order in a 1-2-3 9th inning.
Following Sunday’s outing Rodríguez has now pitched 11.1 scoreless innings this season. In those 11.1 innings of work he has allowed just 1 hit, walked a single batter, has not allowed a run and he has struck out 10.
Rodríguez being red hot and borderline un-hittable is not new, however. Dating back to last season the 31-year-old righty has now made 22 consecutive scoreless outings. Yes, 22 consecutive scoreless outings.
In these 22 outings Rodríguez has pitched 22 innings. He has allowed 8 hits, walked 4 batters and struck out 26 in these 22 innings of work. Rodríguez has needed just 87 pitches to get through his last 8 innings of work and he has not allowed a baserunner in these 8 innings of work.
Additionally, Rodríguez has now retired 25 consecutive batters. This is the longest streak for a Pirate pitcher since former All-Star closer, which Rodríguez appears to be on his way to being this season, Mark Melancon retired 26 consecutive batters during the 2015 season. Right now, there are few relief pitchers, if any, in baseball who are pitching better than Rodríguez.
Rodríguez pitching this well out of the bullpen is a win/win for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he continues to pitch anywhere near this well he should have tremendous trade value for the Pirates when July’s trade deadline rolls around and contending teams get desperate for bullpen help.
Even if Rodríguez is not traded, if his great work continues he could become a long-term piece in the Pirate bullpen. He remains under control through the 2023 season, which appears to be the season in which the next Pirate window for contention will open up, so he could also be valuable to the Pirates as a piece that helps the next contending Pirate team win baseball games.