Rodriguez earned the save in Thursday's win over the Cubs after tossing a scoreless ninth inning, walking one and striking out two. Rodriguez closed the door on the Cubs on Thursday, and the 31-year-old reliever put the finishing touches on a stellar performance from the Pirates' bullpen -- they allowed just one run across six frames between six hurlers. Rodriguez, who tossed eight of his 14 pitches for strikes, posted a career-best 0.86 WHIP to go along with a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings last season, and he looks set to collect most of Pittsburgh's save opportunities as long as he remains effective.
Rodriguez gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits in one inning against Minnesota on Monday. He struck out one batter. He's given up one run in five of his seven spring outings. The team hasn't revealed whether it will go with one closer or a bullpen-by-committee, but Rodriguez has done little this spring to lock down the closer's job. Kyle Crick and David Bednar are also in the mix for late-inning work.
Rodriguez gave up one earned run in 1.1 innings against Baltimore on Thursday, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out one batter. He came in to pitch against the Orioles' starting lineup with two outs and two on in the second inning, and promptly served up a three-run homer to Ryan Mountcastle. Rodriguez finished 2020 as the Pirates' closer, but manager Derek Shelton has not named a closer for this season. In fact, he's hinted at the possibility of a closer committee or using Rodriguez in a setup role to start 2021. The righty has registered a 6.35 ERA, 2.12 WHIP and 9:1 K:BB in 5.2 spring innings.
Rodriguez, who has allowed three earned runs on nine hits and one walk in 4.1 innings this spring, has not been named the team's closer, Jake Crouse of MLB.com reports. He's looked upon as the team's default closer after saving four games at the end of 2020, but manager Derek Shelton has said he feels Rodriguez is better equipped as a setup man. Kyle Crick has gained velocity back this spring, while the most impressive reliever in camp may be David Bednar. Rodriguez still has a decent chance of closing, as the rebuilding organization would probably like to flip the right-hander and his highest value might be as a closer, but the team hasn't decided on a specific bullpen role for him or anyone else at this point.
Rodriguez struck out three in a scoreless inning against the Yankees on Wednesday. He allowed one hit and no walks, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports. While manager Derek Shelton has shied away from naming a closer, he used Keone Kela in that role last season. "Having a guy who specifically pitches the ninth? Yeah, I would love for there to be one guy who does that," Shelton said. "Do I know if we'll get there this year? No. To say one way or another, I don't think it's fair." Rodriguez collected four saves in 2020 once he moved into the position. As a result, there's a pretty good chance he'll start 2021 as the team's closer; just keep in mind that the rebuilding organization could trade Rodriguez at some point during the season.
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