He’s back. The Milwaukee Brewers have brought back Francisco Rodriguez for a third time. Through his career he has been one of the most reliable closers/relievers in the game. In his years with the Brewers he has rewarded them in many ways.
The first time the Brewers acquired K-Rod was during the 2011 all-star break, when the club sent two prospects to the Mets in exchange for Rodriguez. The move helped to solidify the back end of the bullpen and showed that Milwaukee was ready to take the next step in winning a division title.
By coming to the Brewers, Rodriguez accepted his role as setup man to John Axford even though he was approaching 300 career saves. By pitching in this role, the club was able to shorten each game to a seven inning game. He allowed only six runs in 29 innings of work and compiled a 4-0 record. This outstanding work helped the team win their first division title since 1982.
The next year, Rodriguez had a club option and was not expected to be back. When the Brewers extended the offer hoping to get a draft pick, K-Rod surprisingly accepted the deal. For a small market team to have an eight million dollar set up man, the move first appeared to hurt the team. But, after stumbling early he was able to settle in and even close some games at times during the season.
During 2013, the Brewers bullpen struggled early. Looking for stability, the club again signed K-Rod, this time to a minor league contract. After four scoreless minor league innings in which he struck out seven batters, he was back with the Brewers. He proved that he still had what it takes to pitch at a big league level. On the mound in 25 appearances his ERA was just over one, and he struck out 26 hitters in just over 24 innings. He was even able to take over the closer role for the struggling John Axford and recorded his 300th save.
The Brewers were able to use Rodriguez in a trade with Baltimore to acquire some much needed minor league depth. The team acquired third baseman Nicky Delmonico. Delmonico instantly became the highest rated third baseman in the system and is currently the only real prospect at the position behind Aramis Ramirez.
While he is not the great pitcher with a blazing fastball that he was in his days with the Angels, K-Rod has greatly rewarded the Brewers for their confidence in him. He has not only excelled on the mound, but he has been used to help solidify the farm system that is in desperate need of depth. While he struggled during the second half with Baltimore after the trade last year, the $3.5-million contract shows a trust that Rodriguez can still give quality innings and again reward the Brewers.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference