A pitch that will help elevate E-Rod to acehood status, his changeup is very effective at hitting the bottom of the zone for strikes or diving below it for outside swings. It has more horizontal break on it for a changeup and helps it have a 66.9% groundball rate.
Without top-end velocity (sits 92-94 mph) or elite spin (34th percentile), Rodriguez lives in the top of the zone with his fastball. More suprising, his fastball had both the highest K% (28.3%) and BB% (10.1%) from his entire repertoire.
Rodriguez’s cutter was his most effective pitch at getting called strikes in 2019. That little front-door action helped it earn a 23.6% called strike rate. opposed to a lowly 8.2% swinging-strike rate.
Rodriguez’s slider isn’t his best pitch and for something that breaks as much as it does you would think it would have a better swinging-strike rate. With better placement of it in the future this pitch could become more elite, as against lefties he has the right idea of going away.
We saw less of the four-seam in 2018 as his cutter and changeup were bumped up in usage. The pitch was more or less the same as we’ve seen in years past with minor tweaks. While batters were able to hit the pitch better than they have in years past, Rodriguez also took positive steps forward in terms of controlling the pitch, reducing his walk rate by 2% from 2017. Somewhat troubling is a career-high exit velocity coming off the pitch, though this came in tandem with a career-low launch angle.
His second-most thrown pitch, Rodriguez throws a changeup with excellent arm-side movement. It has been his best pitch over his career and held opposing batters to a .070 ISO in 2018 to go along with a swinging-strike rate of 18.2%. His Zone% dropped eight points to 23%, yet hitters still had a 46.8% chase rate. It will be interesting to see if hitters adjust and lay off the change in 2019.
Rodriguez threw a cutter that was actually on par with his changeup in 2018, mainly because of an ISO of .077 against. His cutter is four mph faster than his slider and became an important pitch for him out of nowhere after throwing fewer than 70 in his career prior to 2018. It doesn’t generate many chases or swinging strikes, but he’s able to throw it for a strike and induce weak contact.
Rodriguez increased his two-seam usage in 2018, and it was his least-effective pitch. Though it allowed a .213 Avg., it also allowed a .213 ISO. It failed to even generate a 30% ground-ball rate and should likely be shelved for one of Rodriguez’s other more effective pitches.
Rodriguez phased out his slider in favor of his excellent cutter in 2018. With a .522 ISO against and a below-average 8.9% swinging-strike rate, Rodriguez may continue to lower his slider usage in 2019.