Richard Rodriguez was an underrated find by the Pirates in 2018. After establishing himself as one of their go-to relievers in both 2019 and 2020, Rodriguez had entered the year as the team’s closing pitcher in 2021. Up until the trade deadline, Rodriguez had solidified himself as a very good 9th-inning man.
In 38.1 innings, Rodriguez had saved 14 games while pitching to a 2.82 ERA, 2.60 FIP, and 0.84 WHIP. The right-hander had a walk rate of just 3.4% and a home run rate of 0.47-per-9 innings. However, his 22.8% strikeout rate was a pretty decent dip from his 2018-2020 strikeout rate of 28.2%. Still, these numbers attracted the attention of multiple teams at the trade deadline.
The team the Pirates ended up trading Rich-Rod to was the Atlanta Braves. He tossed 26 innings, working to a 3.12 ERA, but don’t be fooled by the ERA. Rodriguez’s strikeout rate took another significant downturn to just 8.5%. His home run rate skyrocketed to 2.08-per-9 innings. He still maintained a quality 4.7% walk rate, but that is about where the positives end for Rodriguez’s tenure in Atlanta.
Rodriguez was left off the team’s playoff rosters during their World Series run and was non-tendered during that off-season. He has yet to re-appear in the majors and even served an 80-game PED suspension in 2022. There was significant concern about Rodriguez after MLB started to check for foreign substances on the mound, as he had a major dip in fastball spin rate in 2021.