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Athletics 2014 season review: Fernando Rodriguez returns from injury

This is what Fernando looks like, if you were curious.
This is what Fernando looks like, if you were curious.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We just knocked out a couple big names with Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester, but now we're on to a much smaller 2014 contributor: No. 33, reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

Player profile

Name: Fernando Rodriguez, aka Not Fernando Abad
Position: RHP, relief
Stats: 7 games, 1.00 ERA, 9 innings, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 4 hits
WAR: 0.3 bWAR, 0.1 fWAR
How he got here: Acquired from Houston Astros prior to 2013
2014 Salary: $600,000
2015 Status: 1st-year arbitration, under team control
2015 Salary: $635,000

Season summary

You may not have heard of Fernando Rodriguez, but he's been with the Oakland Athletics for two years now. He was the extra piece who came over from Houston in the Jed Lowrie deal, but within two months of his acquisition he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2013 season. He returned in 2014, and we finally got to see what he can do.

Rodriguez is a former starter who moved to the bullpen several years ago and has seen his strikeout rate skyrocket. He relies primarily on a 95 mph fastball, a curve, and a cutter that he added last year. After breezing through a month of Triple-A ball, the 30-year-old got the call on May 9 during an early-season pitching staff shakeup. Dan Straily, who had been struggling, was sent back to Sacramento, and Drew Pomeranz was shifted from the bullpen to the rotation to replace him. Additionally, Ryan Cook was placed on the DL with a forearm strain that somehow didn't result in Tommy John. In order to fill the two open bullpen spots, Rodriguez and lefty Joe Savery were brought up from the River Cats.

Rodriguez stuck around for the rest of May, outlasting Savery and appearing in six games. He eventually went back to Sacramento in favor of Stephen Vogt, a couple of days before Cook came off the DL. After continuing his success in Triple-A, he came back when rosters expanded in September and made one more appearance for the A's. Overall, he posted a 1.00 ERA in the Majors in nine innings. For Sacramento, his ERA was 1.97 in 38 games, with 53 strikeouts and 16 walks in 45⅔ frames. Sure, he was a 30-year-old pitching to minor leaguers, but at a certain point all you can do is continue putting up great numbers and wait for your name to get called.

He only pitched in one particularly meaningful game for the A's. He entered in relief of Tommy Milone in the sixth on May 21, allowing an inherited runner to score (on an RBI hit by Yunel Escobar) but then pitching a perfect seventh to help preserve a 3-2 win against the Rays. The only run that was charged to him came courtesy of the Blue Jays three days later, when Jose Reyes scored from second base on a groundout by Melky Cabrera. Overall, Rodriguez's season was a success just based on the fact that he fully returned from his surgery. The fact that he also pitched as well as he ever has in his career was just a bonus.

Rodriguez was designated for assignment on Dec. 18 when the A's picked up lefty reliever Eury De La Rosa from Arizona, but he managed to clear waivers and stay in the organization. That means that he's not on the 40-man roster, so in order to come back to Oakland the A's would have to cut someone else (or put someone on the 60-day DL), but that can be seen as a positive. He's an MLB-quality reliever who is under team control but doesn't require a roster spot, meaning that the A's can use that spot on another pitcher who may otherwise have been waived and lost to another club. Depth, baby. Meanwhile, Rodriguez himself can bide his time in Sacramento Nashville, ready to lend a right hand to the big league squad in an emergency. Given his strikeout potential and his MLB experience (126 games over four seasons for three teams), he's a nice asset for Oakland to have in its back pocket.

2014 season grade, relative to expectations: B ... He earned a C just by making it all the way back from Tommy John. He got up to a B- by reaching the Majors. He dropped the minus by pitching well in the Majors. He could have earned an A by sticking in Oakland for the rest of the season after his initial call-up.

2014 season grade, overall: B- ... A right-hander who put up a good ERA but shaky peripherals in a limited sample. Not much to grade here, but also not much to complain about.

Video highlights

There aren't really any Rodriguez highlights, so here's the next-best thing: a highlight in which Rodriguez was on the field. This is Reyes scoring from second on a routine grounder, on a pitch that happened to be thrown by Rodriguez.


If things went just right for the A's (or just wrong), they could have a lefty/righty set-up tandem of Fernando & Fernando, Abad and Rodriguez. That would be pretty sweet, name-wise.