Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez earned his 322nd career save Thursday night, moving past Jose Mesa to take sole possession of 15th place on MLB's all-time saves list, per Brewers Senior Director of Media Relations Mike Vassallo.
Rodriguez's career got off to a memorable start, as he debuted late in the 2002 season and played a huge role in the Los Angeles Angels' World Series victory that year, winning five games in 11 appearances during the playoffs. Widely knows as "K-Rod" from that point on, he spent 2003 and 2004 working as a setup man in front of closer Troy Percival, who ranks eighth in MLB history with 358 career saves.
Rodriguez was the Angels' full-time closer from 2005 to 2008, collecting 192 saves in 216 opportunities (88.8 percent) over the four-year span. He still holds the single-season record for saves, having closed out 62 victories in 69 opportunities during the 2008 campaign as a member of the Angels.
Following his historic season, Rodriguez inked a three-year deal with the New York Mets, a team that finished above .500 in each of the previous four years. The Mets weren't able to sustain the success, and Rodriguez only got 98 save opportunities (converting 83) in his two-plus seasons with the team before being traded to the Brewers in July 2011.
He worked as a setup man for the Brewers until 2013, when he earned 10 saves for the team, but was then traded to the Baltimore Orioles during the season. Once again resigned to a setup role, Rodriguez was unable to add to his saves total in Baltimore. He compiled just 13 saves between the 2012 and 2013 seasons after averaging 39.6 per year from 2005 to 2011.
Rodriguez rejoined the Brewers before this season, and most assumed that he'd be the setup man in front of projected closer Jim Henderson. However, after Henderson struggled during spring training, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke named Rodriguez to the ninth-inning role.
Roenicke's surprising decision has quite clearly paid off, as Rodriguez has converted 18 of his 20 save opportunities while posting a 2.17 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 33:6 K:BB ratio. Heading into Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he is tied with Huston Street of the San Diego Padres and Sergio Romo of the San Francisco Giants for the major league lead in saves.
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