Signed as an amateur free agent by Washington’s Nationals out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Jefry Rodríguez debuted in the majors in 2018, and was traded to Cleveland in the Yan Gomes deal that winter, before re-signing with the Nats this past December on a minor league deal.
“We were able to get him back from Cleveland,” manager Davey Martinez said after naming Rodríguez Washington’s starter for the second of two with the San Francisco Giants in D.C. on Saturday. “And he started out — he was hurt in the beginning, but we built him back up, he’s been throwing the ball really well. He’s a guy — he throws a two-seamer, four-seamer, good curveball, good changeup, so he’s got a good mix of pitches. I told him hopefully we don’t need him in the first game. There’s a good possibility that he might start the second game for us, so... but he’s been throwing the ball well. Great kid.
“I’ve always liked him. So he’s going to get an opportunity to pitch for us today.”
Rodríguez was (1-0) with a 7.56 ERA, 13 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 16 2⁄3 IP before he was called back up, with just one home run allowed over that stretch.
Martinez’s message to his starter before he sent Rodríguez out to the mound?
“Just go have fun,” he said, “and attack the strike zone, I mean, that’s all. I don’t want to put too much thought in his head. I know he’s met with [pitching coach Jim] Hickey, he’s met with [catcher] Yan [Gomes], but we don’t want to put a whole lot in his head, we just want him to attack the strike zone and get outs.”
Rodríguez stranded two walks in a 24-pitch first, retired the Giants in order in an 11-pitch top of the second, stranded a leadoff double in a 15-pitch third, and erased a one-out walk in the fourth when he dialed up an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP to get him through a 10-pitch frame as he finished four scoreless on 60 pitches, 32 strikes.
In the seven-inning game, that was it for the starter... in what ended up a 2-1 loss in extra innings.
Jefry Rodríguez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 60 P, 32 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
“He threw the ball really well,” Martinez said after the game. “His ball was electric tonight, it really was. His fastball, his curveball. What I’d like to see is his location, even though he threw the ball, his stuff was good, sometimes he missed his location. He fell behind a little bit, but he came back and was able to throw a strike when he needed to, so I thought he did well. We started watching him and he started spiking fastballs, and to me that’s an indication that we was about done. He got us through the fourth inning and we thought that was good enough.”
“[He] came out and gave us everything he had for what he had,” the manager added, “and kept us in the ballgame.”
“I felt great,” Rodríguez said, through translator Octavio Martinez, “... you know the team showed that they still have confidence in me and I was trying to prove them right and do the best that I can out there.”
Rodríguez said that he didn’t necessarily expect to get the call to make this start, but he’s always ready for the opportunity.
“Wherever I’m at I prepare myself the same and just go out there and do the best job I can, so in essence you know if I get the call I want to be ready for it, but I always have the same mindset, just go out there and do the best I can wherever I’m at.”
Does he feel like he earned another opportunity with his work?
“Absolutely. We’re always working towards getting the opportunity and taking advantage of it when I can get it.”