Investigating the Francisco Rodriguez Home Run Problem | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

The Brewers lost what was an all-around sloppy game for both sides on Wednesday night, as the Padres won in ten innings on a Rene Rivera walk-off single. Still the part of the game that lingers with the most bitterness is what happened in Rivera’s at-bat before ending the game off of Zach Duke–his game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez.

The home run ball has been the ongoing issue for Rodriguez this season. His HR/9 is 1.80, which is on the same playing level as Marco Estrada at 1.90 (h/t to @BadgerNoonan). It’s become a serious issue for the Brewers, with Rodriguez surrendering longballs in three of his last four outings. His ERA has shot up to 3.00 and his 4.21 FIP isn’t the most soothing site for a team that will be playing close games in a pennant chase.

Since June 17–a sample size of over two months–Rodriguez has surrendered twelve runs on nine homers in only 25.2 innings. His ERA is 4.21 and he has a FIP of 5.86 during that span. These are all signs for concern, even for a typical optimist like me. I’ll offer two possible projections for the rest of the year for K-Rod.

The first: nothing changes.

This one is less fun and continues K-Rod’s home run problems he’s suffered as Brewers closer. Since his great start to the season in March/April, he owns a 2.45 HR/9 over nearly four full months. This hasn’t just been an issue in his last four outings, or in the month of August, or since June 17, but for almost four whole months now.

Opponents are crushing pitches left up in the zone–which should be expected. Rodriguez is just leaving far too many of them up.

Choosing to go with this projection for the rest of the season would mean you buy into Rodriguez’s high HR/9, HR%, and HR/FB numbers over a relatively large sample size for the season.

The second: Fluky HR/FB

For pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, Rodriguez holds the league’s highest HR/FB rate of 23.5%. His ground ball numbers are up from last season in which he gave up far fewer home runs.

Perhaps the most odd thing about his season is the great K/BB numbers being posted. Rodriguez has a K/9 of 10.20 to a BB/9 of 2.10, which is significantly the best split of his career. He owns a HR% of 5.1%, compared to a BB% of just 6.0%…which is absolutely crazy. Rodriguez has only walked two more batters than home runs given up.

So you could also buy into good old regression, which would tell you Rodriguez’s HR/FB will drop at some point before the season.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Evan (Maryland) says: August 28, 2014

    Honestly this is one of the things Brewers fans deal with year in and year out. As a Middle/Small Market team you have to make concessions and it is difficult to get a hold of some of the more expensive “guarantees” in the bullpen. With Henderson and Thornburg out for the majority of the season the spotlight has been even sharper on everyone especially Rodriguez who had the closer role by default of there not being any competition for it. Duke has been trailing off and Will Smith has been a train wreck the second half. Not one of the relievers did their job yesterday unless Smith letting two guys on is considered quality stuff. With a month to go the results could go either way. The sample size isn’t large and if the Brewers can win this division it won’t be because people remember how awesome the bullpen was. It will be due to players like Gomez, Lucroy, and late season infusions from Mike Fiers that become the narrative. The best thing that can likely happen is the bullpen doesn’t blow leads and gives them their runs in non-crucial situations. They just don’t have the shut-down reliever that lets you exhale when he steps on the mound.

  2. dbug says: August 29, 2014

    If we are seriously thinking the team has a two-year window, I really hope Doug Melvin has checked into Papelbon. I know he makes a lot of money, but the Phillies are willing to eat some of that. If they don’t want to give up any players for him, Papelbon is probably going to cost $26M for the next two years. That’s alot, but if helps give you a chance to win the world series, it seems like it would be more than worth it.

  3. deadred says: August 30, 2014

    The Brewers are going nowhere without a reliable closer.

  4. Swisch says: August 30, 2014

    It seems as though the Brewers need a two or three run lead when K-Rod comes in to close a game. Not only does he give up heartbreaking homers, but it seems to me that he is usually involved in some kind of melodrama involving hard-hit balls.
    This has been driving me a little crazy since before the all-star break, but I’m not sure who could step in to fill K-Rod’s role. Half of me says just stick with K-Rod, the other half says to be daring and give the closer role to someone else — Jimmy Nelson?
    To give K-Rod some credit, I like the way he battles even after he does give up a run — that he generally doesn’t let things explode. Still, this is going to be a tumultuous and scary September if things with K-Rod continue as they have. It’s going to be tough on my nervous system.
    P.S. Please, please, stop platooning Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett. A day off per week, yes, but otherwise let’s play these guys all the time!

  5. Andy says: August 30, 2014

    This game was one of the worst umped games I have seen this year in regards to ball/strike calls and K-Rod gets an article because he was the one who got burned. The ump forced K-Rod into throwing that pitch on the inside corner by calling those two pitches on the outside corner balls that were strikes all game long. Braun Gogo and Luc all got punched out by that “umpire” behind the plate. Roenicke got tossed right after as well.
    Yes K-Rod is frustrating but realize good players will hit homeruns off guys when the get a good count. He has consistently been a great closer for the Brewers and been one of the best at reinventing himself. I remember when he was power slider and upper 90′s fireballer. Now he is a changeup/slurve/low 90′s locator and he still whips out that power slider. He is having a down stretch and got punished by a poor job behind the dish in this instance. Leave the man be and go Crew.

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