Francisco Rodríguez (Venezuelan pitcher)

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Francisco Rodríguez
Francisco Rodríguez on August 4, 2013.jpg
Rodríguez with the Baltimore Orioles
Detroit Tigers – No. 57
Relief pitcher
Born: (1982-01-07) January 7, 1982 (age 37)
Caracas, Venezuela
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
September 18, 2002, for the Anaheim Angels
MLB statistics
(through 2015 season)
Win–loss record 47-44
Earned run average 2.69
Strikeouts 1,067
Saves 386
Career highlights and awards

Francisco José Rodríguez Sr. (born January 7, 1982), nicknamed "Frankie" and "K-Rod," is a Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has also played for the Anaheim Angels / Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, and Milwaukee Brewers.

Rodriguez pitched for the Angels from 2002 to 2008, and the Mets from 2009 to mid-way through the 2011 season. He served as the closer for both teams. He then pitched for the Brewers until July 2013, mostly in a setup role, and for the Orioles for the rest of 2013 before returning to the Brewers for 2014.

Rodríguez holds the major league record for saves in a single season, with 62, set in 2008. He is a three-time league leader in saves (2005, 2006, and 2008) and a six-time All-Star.

Professional career

Anaheim Angels / Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2002 season

Rodríguez signed as an undrafted amateur free agent in 1998. Originally a starting pitcher, Rodríguez moved to relief pitching in 2002 after elbow and shoulder injuries shortened his 2001 minor league season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. In 2002, he made his major league debut. At the time, he was the youngest pitcher in the American League.[1] Because of the multiple injuries to the Angels bullpen, the club brought him up during the middle of September. He emerged as a postseason relief hero, winning five postseason games despite never having won a Major League game before. Although he threw a lively fastball, his sharp-breaking curveball was his most effective pitch.

Because Rodríguez had played very little in the Major Leagues, hitters in the postseason had very little idea what to expect from him, a situation that often favors the pitcher. In the 2002 ALDS against the New York Yankees, he got two victories (with 1 win resulting from a blown save). The Angels won the division series against the Yankees in 4 games. During the 2002 ALCS vs the Minnesota Twins, he went 2–0 with seven strikeouts in four and one-third innings. The Angels won the ALCS against the Twins in 5 games. During the 2002 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, he had a 1–1 record with 13 strikeouts in eight and two-thirds innings. At 20 years, 286 days old, he became the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game. The Angels won the World Series in 7 games.

2003 season

In 2003, Rodríguez became a setup man. He gave up an earned run in 9 of his first 15 games, but rebounded to only allow 9 in his last 44 appearances. For the 2003 year, Rodriguez made 59 appearances going 8–3 with a 3.03 ERA.

2004 season

In 2004, Rodríguez was selected for the All-Star Game. On August 24, 2004, he became the sixth pitcher in the Angels' 44-year history to strike out at least 100 batters in a season without starting a game — joining Mark Clear (105 in 1980), DeWayne Buice (109, 1987), Bryan Harvey (101, 1991), Troy Percival (100, 1996), and Scot Shields (109, also in 2004). He finished the 2004 year 4–1 with 123 strikeouts and a 1.82 ERA in 69 relief appearances.

During the 2004 ALDS, Francisco Rodriguez had 2 losses as the Angels would eventually lose the division series to the Boston Red Sox in just 3 games.

2005: Transition to closer

Entering the 2005 season, veteran Angels closer Troy Percival departed as a free agent which allowed Rodriguez to become the Angels' full-time closer. Rodríguez ended the season 2–5 with a 2.67 ERA in 66 relief appearances and tied the American League lead in saves with 45.

Rodriguez got his first 2 career postseason saves during the 2005 ALDS as the Angels won the division series against the Yankees in 5 games. He got one save in the 2005 ALCS until the Angels lost the ALCS to the Chicago White Sox in 5 games.

2006 season

Rodriguez improved on his share of the 2005 American League saves title by leading the Majors in 2006 with 47 saves, one more than the National League leader Trevor Hoffman and six more than American League runner-up Bobby Jenks. On September 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he became the youngest closer in Major League Baseball history, at age 24, to accumulate 100 career saves. He accomplished this feat a year younger than the previous record holder, Gregg Olson.

2007 season

Rodríguez pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2007

At the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Rodriguez was named as one of three Angels to represent the club, along with teammates Vladimir Guerrero and John Lackey. Rodriguez recorded the save as the American League defeated the National League, 5–4. Rodriguez finished the 2007 season 5–2 with a 1.73 ERA and 40 saves in 64 relief appearances.

In the 2007 ALDS, Rodriguez pitched only 13 of an inning with an ERA accumulating 54.00. The Angels lost the division series to the Red Sox in just 3 games.

2008: Single season saves record

Rodríguez received his second career DHL Delivery Man of the Month Award after posting 11 saves in 12 appearances during the month of June.[2] Rodríguez set a major league record by recording his 35th save before the All-Star Break, breaking the previous record of 34 set by John Smoltz in 2003.[3] He was a member of the American League All-Star Team for the third time and made a brief appearance in the game, facing two batters while walking one.[4] On August 20, 2008, he set both his and the Angels single season record with his 48th save.[5] With his 50th save on August 24, 2008, Rodríguez became the first relief pitcher to reach that number since Mariano Rivera in 2004 and the ninth overall.[6] He was also the youngest pitcher to ever reach that number at 26 years, 7 months, and 17 days. In addition, he reached that milestone in 129 team games, faster than any pitcher in history.[7] With three saves during the week of August 18–24, including the milestone of number 50, Rodríguez was awarded the American League Player of the Week for the first time in his career.[8]

On September 2, 2008, Rodríguez saved his 200th career game (54th of the season), becoming the youngest player in history to reach that number.[9] On September 10, 2008, while facing the New York Yankees, Rodríguez saved his 56th game of the season and clinched the American League Western Division title for the Angels.[10] On September 11, 2008, while facing the Seattle Mariners, Rodríguez saved his 57th game of the season, tying Bobby Thigpen's 1990 major league record.[11]

On September 13, 2008, while again facing the Mariners, Rodríguez recorded his 58th save of the season, setting a new MLB record.[12] On September 20, 2008, Rodríguez became the first pitcher to reach 60 saves in a season when he closed out a 7–3 victory against the Texas Rangers.[13]

Rodríguez finished his record-setting 2008 regular season performance with 62 saves in 69 opportunities, appearing in an AL-leading 76 games. It was his fourth consecutive season of recording at least 40 saves.[14] He finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting.[15][16]

The Angels again faced the Red Sox in the 2008 ALDS. Rodriguez lost a game and the Angels would lose the series to the Red Sox in 4 games.

New York Mets

Rodríguez pitching for the New York Mets in 2009

2009 season

On December 10, 2008, Rodríguez signed a three-year, $37 million contract with the New York Mets.[17] Rodríguez, who had worn number 57 for his entire career, switched to number 75, as Mets ace Johan Santana wore number 57 at the time.[18] On April 6, 2009, Rodríguez recorded his first save as a Met against the Cincinnati Reds.

On May 24, 2009, Rodríguez suffered a back injury and was taken to a local Boston hospital where he was given medication for the pain.[19] He returned to the team the next day.[19]

He was selected to play in the 2009 All-Star game and pitched a scoreless 9th inning.

On September 30, 2009, Rodríguez surrendered a walk-off grand slam to Justin Maxwell to cap a five-run ninth inning that lifted the Washington Nationals to a 7–4 victory over the Mets. This made him the first pitcher to allow two walk-off grand slams in one season since Lee Smith did in 1995 (on August 7, Rodriguez surrendered a grand slam to Everth Cabrera with no outs to cap another five-run ninth inning that gave the San Diego Padres a 6–2 win over the Mets). Rodríguez finished the 2009 season 3–6 with a 3.71 ERA and 35 saves converted out of 42 opportunities. It was his fifth consecutive season of 30 or more saves.

2010 season

During his suspension-shortened 2010 season, Rodriguez appeared in 53 games going 4–2 with a 2.20 ERA and 25 saves.

2011 season

Rodriguez started the 2011 season with 42 relief appearances going 2–2 with a 3.16 ERA and 23 saves.

Milwaukee Brewers

Rest of 2011

On July 12, 2011, immediately following the All-Star Game, Rodríguez was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers along with cash, for Adrian Rosario and Danny Herrera. The Associated Press noted the Brewers had two potential closers in Rodríguez and their existing closer, John Axford.[20] Rodríguez expressed his unhappiness in September to being used as the setup man to Axford.[21] Axford finished the season with a streak of 43 consecutive save opportunities converted.[22] In 31 games for the Brewers, Rodríguez was 4–0 with a 1.86 ERA.[1] Overall for the 2011 season, he was 6–2 with a 2.64 ERA in 73 appearances. He had 23 saves, all with the Mets.[1] Through 2011, he was 4th of all active pitchers in career saves (291) and games finished (445), and 8th in fielding percentage (.970).[1]

Rodríguez with the Brewers in the 2011 NLCS

Rodriguez made two appearances in the 2011 NLDS vs the Arizona Diamondbacks and struck out four. The Brewers won the series against the Diamondbacks in five games. He appeared in three games of the 2011 NLCS vs the St. Louis Cardinals. His ERA during the series was 3.00 and his new team of the Brewers would eventually lose the series to the Cardinals in six games.

2012 season

In January 2012, Rodríguez signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Brewers through arbitration. The Brewers again planned to have Rodríguez and Axford in the bullpen, shifting between the two depending on who has been struggling of late.[23] In 2012, Rodriguez made a career high of 78 relief appearances going 2–7 with a 4.38 ERA and only 3 saves.

2013 season

On October 29, 2012, the Brewers granted Rodriguez free agency. They re-signed him to a minor league deal on April 17, 2013 worth $2 million plus incentives if he makes the Brewers. Rodriguez started the 2013 season appearing in 25 games going 1–1 with a 1.09 ERA and 10 saves.

Baltimore Orioles

Rest of 2013

On July 23, 2013 Rodriguez was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league prospect Nick Delmonico.[24] Rodriguez struggled in his Orioles tenure, posting a 4.50 ERA in 23 appearances with the team.

Second stint with Brewers

2014 season

On February 7, 2014, Rodríguez signed a one-year deal to return to the Milwaukee Brewers.[25] Rodriguez was named the Brewers closer to start the 2014 season.

On July 6, Rodriguez was selected as an All Star for the 5th time in his career, and the first time since 2009. Rodriguez finished his 2014 campaign posting a 5–5 record with a 3.04 ERA, 73 strikeouts, and converting 44 saves in 49 opportunities.[26] During the season, he rose to tenth place on the all-time saves list.[27]

2015 season

On February 27, 2015, the Brewers re-signed Rodriguez a two-year, $13M deal.[28] Milwaukee also holds a club option for the 2017 season. Rodriguez will be paid $3.5M in 2015 and $5.5M in 2016. The deal also includes a $2M deferral and a $2M buyout on the Brewers' 2017 club option worth $6M.

On June 6, Rodríguez recorded his 358th career save and his 10th of the season, tying him with Troy Percival for 9th on the all-time saves list.[29] Two nights later on June 8, Rodríguez recorded his 359th career save, putting him past Percival for sole possession of 9th on the all-time saves list.[30]

On July 6, Rodriguez was selected as an All Star for a second consecutive season and for the 6th time in his career.

On July 8, Rodriguez recorded his 367th career save, tying him with Jeff Reardon for 8th on the all-time saves list. On July 17, Rodriguez recorded his 368th career save, passing Reardon for and putting him alone at 8th on the all-time saves list.

On August 16, Rodríguez recorded his 377th career save tying him with Joe Nathan for 7th all time. On August 19, Rodríguez recorded save number 378, passing Nathan for 7th on the all time list as well as making him the active career saves leader.

On September 27, Rodríguez finished his 600th career game, becoming only the 17th pitcher all time to finish 600 games.

Detroit Tigers

On November 18, 2015, Rodríguez was traded to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Javier Betancourt and Manny Piña.[31][32]

Pitching style

Rodríguez throws four pitches. He came up throwing a hard four-seam fastball that averaged 95 mph in 2007, but has settled in the 91–94 mph range through the 2012 season. He also throws a two-seam fastball at 90–93 mph. His off-speed pitches are a curveball at 76–79 mph and a changeup at 82–85 mph. He uses his changeup more against left-handed hitters.[33] It has a whiff rate of 48% since 2007, the third-highest among all changeups thrown by relief pitchers.[34]

Rodríguez has been a strikeout pitcher throughout his career, compiling an average of 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.[35]

Personal life

Rodríguez's nickname of "K-Rod" became popular during the 2002 playoffs.[36] It is a play on Alex Rodriguez' nickname "A-Rod," the nickname of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, with "K" representing the common abbreviation for strikeout. Rodríguez is a practitioner of the Santería religion.[37] Rodríguez has competed in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Venezuelan team with his former teammate Johan Santana. Rodriguez has 5 children.


On June 13, 2009, New York Yankees reliever Brian Bruney criticized Rodríguez, calling his antics on the mound "unbelievable" and saying that Rodriguez has "got a tired act," after seeing his reaction to earning a blown save in 2009 against the Yankees where teammate Luis Castillo dropped a pop-up with two outs in the ninth inning allowing the Yankees to score the winning run. Rodríguez responded by saying "somebody like that, it doesn't bother me," and suggesting that Bruney "better keep his mouth shut and do his job, not worry about somebody else. I don't even know who the guy is. I'm not going to waste my time with that guy. Instead of sending messages through the paper, next time when you see me at Citi Field, come up to me and say it to my face."[38] During batting practice the following day Rodríguez confronted Bruney on the field, pointing and shouting at him before teammates from both sides separated the two.[39]

In May 2010, Rodríguez and bullpen coach Randy Niemann got into a heated exchange while the pitcher was preparing to enter a game. Mets manager Jerry Manuel later said the matter was resolved, without saying what caused the dispute.[40]

On August 11, 2010, Rodríguez was arrested after allegedly assaulting Carlos Pena, the father of his girlfriend Daian Pena after the Mets lost a game at Citi Field. Rodríguez was reportedly upset that he made disparaging remarks about Rodríguez's mother.[41] Rodríguez remained in police custody at Citi Field on a charge of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor in the state of New York, and was arraigned that afternoon.[42][43] He was released without bail, and ordered by a judge to stay away from his girlfriend and her father. The Mets suspended him and placed him on the team's restricted list for two days, which meant he would forfeit two games' salary. "Ownership and the organization are very disappointed in Francisco's inappropriate behavior and we take the matter very seriously," team chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.[40] Rodríguez suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb, possibly during the altercation, requiring season-ending surgery.[44] The Mets put Rodríguez on the disqualified list, intending not to pay him until he was physically able to perform.[45] On September 22, 2010, Rodriguez was back in Queens Criminal Court facing seven counts of criminal contempt after sending numerous text messages to Daian Pena in violation of the order of protection. The judge imposed bail of $7,500, which Rodriguez posted.[46]

Rodriguez was charged with domestic violence in Wisconsin relating to a September 17, 2012 incident in which he allegedly hit and kicked the mother of his child. He was facing a fine of $10,000 and/or up to 9 months in prison.[47] Charges were subsequently dropped against Rodriguez when the victim and the eyewitness (housekeeper) both returned to Venezuela and did not respond to the district attorney on the case.

See also


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External links