Jefry Rodriguez earned his first major league win earlier this month with a five-inning effort against the Atlanta Braves in which he gave up three hits, a walk, and one earned run, and eleven days later, the right-hander went five innings against the Miami Marlins, giving the Washington Nationals another solid effort on the mound in which he surrendered five hits, three walks, and four runs, two of them earned.
The 25-year-old starter took the mound Sunday afternoon trying to help the Nationals avoid a fourth straight loss after they’d dropped the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies and the first two with the New York Mets in Citi Field.
Rodriguez talked after his last outing about the adjustments he’d made over his first seven major league starts.
“I think the biggest difference there is, before, I used to like to just battle with my fastball a lot,” he explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Now I’m mixing in my pitches more,” Rodriguez added, “... using my off-speed more and getting more comfortable and confident with those off-speed pitches.”
Rodriguez threw five scoreless to start against the Mets on Sunday, working around two hits and three walks, and he took the mound in the bottom of the sixth at 83 pitches overall with a 1-0 lead, and was able to work around what was his fourth walk of the game, completing six scoreless on a total of 97 pitches.
Jefry Rodriguez’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 97 P, 53 S, 8/5 GO/FO.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked after the outing about showing faith in the rookie right-hander by sending him out in the sixth inning of a one-run game to see how he would handle himself.
“We thought about maybe taking him out,” the first-year manager explained, “and then I said, ‘You know what, I want to see what he does, see how he reacts,’ and he gave us six strong innings. I was very impressed and very happy. He’s good. And he’s learning. He’s going to be really good.”
Rodriguez appreciated the fact that he was given an opportunity to complete another frame in a close game.
“It showed the confidence he has in me,” he said through an interpreter, as quoted by MLB.com’s Danny Knobler.
“I’m very impressed with Jefry” Martinez said. “He pitched really well, he did. He gave us what we needed.”
Rodriguez threw a mix of his four pitches to the Mets, with 41 fastballs (95-97 mph, 20 for strikes); 26 sinkers (95-97, 15 strikes); 14 changeups (90, six strikes); and 16 curveballs (81, nine strikes).
“I felt good,” he said afterwards. “At first I felt I wasn’t attacking the strike zone as well as I could have and I started pounding the zone a little better and I was effective.”
His increased changeup usage, and the effectiveness of the pitch, was another positive sign.
“I’ve been feeling good,” he said of his willingness to use his changeup more often. “It was an adjustment I had to make which I did. I kept throwing it and got more comfortable with it. And the majors leagues, that’s what it’s about, making adjustments, and I have been able to do so and I feel good now throwing it and more comfortable with it.”