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.