Since he picked up his first big-league win last night, I thought it a good time to check in on Aneury Rodriguez to see how his season has gone. The Rule 5 draft pick is one of the biggest question marks on the staff, but he's got youth on his side (even if he doesn't always have results).
The first indicators we'll reach for to judge if a pitcher has been successful or not are wins and ERA. They're terrible measures of success, especially when we see that Aneury has just one win in 33 appearances (eight starts) and a 4.66 ERA.
Luckily, we have more advanced stats to see these things, and we continue to look at FIP and xFIP. The former will show a higher average than his ERA while the latter is lower. Hence, we are left with no clearer picture on how he's done. We can look to BABiP, but since that's low at .252, it shows us that Aneury has been lucky to keep his numbers at that level.
However, since Rodriguez has primarily pitched in relief, a lower BABiP may not be so surprising. Relievers don't work as much and, thus, have a much better chance at seeing a low BABiP stay all season. It's not exact or guaranteed, but it mitigates the lowered expectations for the future a bit.
That's still not a lot to go on, so let's delve a bit deeper after the jump.
First thing I look for in a pitcher is the K/9 and BB/9 rates. While his strikeouts are down a bit from his minor league numbers, his walk rate is also down. ZiPS doesn't expect it to stay under 3.00 for the entire season, but just being around 3.00 is a coup for Aneury, who hasn't had a BB/9 that low since High A ball.
His home run rate is very high, considering his minor league rates, but his ground ball rate is also very low. One explains the other, so we can't hope for his home run rate to lower dramatically in the future. I think both stats are a bit off, as his homer rate will probably drop a bit in future seasons while his ground ball rate may rise a bit. He likely won't start throwing 40 percent ground balls, but even half that increase would be nice.
If we look at his pitch effectiveness, via FanGraphs, we can see that his fastball has been his best pitch (and only above-average one). His slider and curve look like they could be average pitches in the future, and his change hasn't been terrible, either. But, from what we see, it looks like Aneury will work off his fastball when he's most successful, which is great, since he threw his fastball 60 percent of the time this season.
The last positive signs I wanted to touch on are his outside zone swing rates and his swinging strike rate. Aneury is slightly over the league average for swinging strikes and slightly under it for swings outside the zone. That means he's getting people waiting until he throws something in the strike zone before they swing, but he's at least missing some bats.
What does all this mean? Aneury's got to work on his command, but not as much as you'd think . His walk rate is down, so his control is fine, but (as we've talked about before), if he's hitting too much of the zone, his control isn't great. With the jump to the big leagues and his relative tender age (23), Aneury has had an excellent season. He's found some success, even if he's had some bumps in the road, he's also shown enough to be optimistic about the future.