The trade of Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night started the countdown to the deadline, and fans can debate whether the Brewers should have focused on finding a decent shortstop first and relief help closer to the deadline. However, Rodriguez ultimately strengthens a lackluster bullpen while allowing John Axford to keep his job. He comes into Thursday with an ERA of 3.16 in 42.2 innings pitched and 23 saves.
Rodriguez has lost velocity this season and now is averaging 90.1 mph on his fastball, a career low. As a result, he has recorded a swinging strike percentage of 10.6 percent (11.2 percent last season), another career low, but he has maintained an above average strikeout rate of 9.70 K/9, the second lowest of his career. He actually has increased his swinging strike percentage with his fastball and changeup this season, but the curveball's percentage has dropped.
Despite some drop-off in his stuff, Rodriguez's xFIP of 3.19 is similar to last season's 3.16 and it is his second best rate since 2007. Command has not been an issue with Rodriguez over the last two seasons, and he should maintain a 3.38 type of walk rate this season as he has thrown a similar amount of pitches in the strike zone (50.6 percent) as last season (51 percent).
His ERA has increased this season because of some poor luck in terms of his .342 BABIP, nearly 70 points above his career average. His line drive rate of 14.1 percent suggests that opposing hitters are not squaring the ball up well against the 29-year-old veteran, and his 51.7 percent ground ball rate is the best of his career.
While his HR/FB rate of 7.3 percent might fall since he will not log half of his innings in Citi Field, the Brewers are getting an above average reliever who should provide the club an extra win during the second half of the season that might decide the NL Central race.