Player: Francisco Rodriguez
Born: January 7, 1982, in Caracas, Venezuela
Position: Relief pitcher
Drafted: Signed by Angels as an amateur free agent in 1998
- 6-time All-Star
- Career 2.69 ERA in 14 seasons
- Led American League in saves in 2005, ’06, and ’08
- 7th all-time in career saves with 386 (active leader)
Francisco Rodriguez has been one of the better and more consistent relief pitchers since his debut in 2002. He made his name when he was with the Angels franchise for the first seven years of his career. His best season was in 2008 when he posted a 2.24 ERA while leading the AL in games (76), games finished (69), and saves (62). He also finished 3rd in Cy Young voting and 6th in AL MVP voting.
The man they call ‘K-Rod’ use to be a pitcher with upper 90’s stuff on his fastball paired with a wipeout slider. However, like many pitchers as they age, he has learned to evolve into a different style and change his repertoire. While he does not have the same speed on his fastball, he’s added a changeup to his arsenal. Opponents hit under .100 against his changeup last season.
The main priority for the Detroit Tigers going into 2016 was to address the pitching staff top to bottom. Tigers General Manager Al Avila was adamant about fixing the starting rotation and adding depth to the bullpen. They were interested in bringing back Joakim Soria to close out games, but it was speculated that Soria was looking for more money than the Tigers were seeking to spend on the closer role. Rodriguez is set to make $7.5M in 2016 with a $6M option for 2017. In the end, Detroit gets themselves another veteran reliever with a proven track record and still has a lot in the tank. Whether it fixes the back of the bullpen remains to be seen.