PACO RODRIGUEZ, 23, reliever.
Final 2014 stats: 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .250 opponent batting average, 14 strikeouts and four walks in 14 innings; at triple-A Albuquerque – 2-3, 4.40 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, three saves, 35 strikeouts and 17 walks in 28 2/3 innings.
Contract status: Under team control.
The good: Continued to strike out batters at every level. In his last 10 appearances (7 2/3 innings) with the Dodgers, he allowed only one run, with eight strikeouts and two walks.
The bad: Not the season Rodriguez had anticipated. He spent most of it in the minors after getting off to a rough start. By the end of April, he had a 7.11 ERA and 1.74 WHIP and was sent down. When he was called back up in August, he appeared in one game before suffering the same shoulder injury that sidelined Clayton Kershaw in April and was out for six weeks.
What’s next: Will go to spring training having to earn a spot as the team’s second left-handed reliever.
The take: Rodriguez was almost stupidly good in 2013 as a 22-year-old reliever who had barely dipped his toes in the minors. He had a 23-game stretch in which he did not allow a run and almost equally frustrated left-handed and right-handed hitters. He understandably tired down the stretch – he appeared in an unwise 76 games -- but the Dodgers were hopeful that after a winter’s rest he would return as a dominant reliever.
He never really got it going as hoped, though he actually struggled only in April. It’s one of those expectations jobs, Rodriguez being compared to his almost otherworldly greatness from the previous season.
Healthy and rested, the Dodgers will again hope that he returns to that dynamic young reliever from 2013, though this time they’ll be careful not to count on it. Young relievers Dan Coulombe and Adam Liberatore, and non-roster invitees David Huff and Ryan Butcher will be competing with Rodriguez to be the second left-hander along with reliever J.P. Howell.