Only in Boston can you win five straight starts and still face criticism.
But in Eduardo Rodriguez’s case Eli Apple Jersey
, there’s a reason for it.
Rodriguez, a 25-year-old left-hander out of Venezuela, is 8-1 with a 3.64 ERA this season as he heads into Sunday afternoon’s start against the host Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
In those past five outings, Rodriguez has lasted more than 5 2/3 innings only once, going 6 2/3 innings on May 30 against Toronto.
He has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of those games, including 109 Tuesday against Baltimore as the Red Sox were forced to use three relievers in a 6-4 victory.
“Eduardo was good; I think the next step for him is to go deeper into the game and keep that pitch count down,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He did the job, I’m not saying we’re not pleased with the results, but I feel there’s more there. There are certain games we need our starters to go deeper and (Tuesday) was one of them.”
Even though the Red Sox are 12-1 when Rodriguez starts, his limited outings have taken a toll on the bullpen.
“It means I’ve been throwing the ball good and I want to keep doing it,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know. I’m trying to do the best I can to go deeper in the games. If there’s something I’ve got to change, I will do it. But I just want to keep trying to find it.”
Rodriguez can throw a 95-mph fastball and his changeup is considered among the best in the game.
“Sometimes we feel like with his stuff he can bury guys right away,” Cora said. “Setting people up for a 2-2 count throw a changeup and then he can go right away 0-2 and use that good changeup. He had a good one (Tuesday). He can bury guys.”
Cora was asked if it’s a confidence issue with Rodriguez?
“No, he’s very confident Amara Darboh Jersey
, to say the least,” Cora said. “It’s just a matter to make that next step, recognize who you are. Sometimes he gets caught up in being someone who he’s not and Eduardo Rodriguez is a good big-league pitcher. His stuff is up there. He should stay with his strength.”
Rodriguez said he’s been getting advice from teammates and fellow left-handers Chris Sale and David Price.
“They just told me to attack the hitters, attack more, attack more in the counts when maybe you’re 0-2, try to put them away as fast as I can,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the best way to get deep in the games.”
Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.
Seattle is scheduled to start right-hander Mike Leake (7-3, 4.26 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.56 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox. Leake hasn’t lost since May 4. Last time out he went six innings, allowing a run on four hits, in a win over the Angels.
Seattle has won two of the first three games of the series, all of which have been decided by one run. Nelson Cruz scored Dee Gordon with a third-inning single for the only run in Saturday’s game.
The Mariners are a majors-leading 23-10 in one-run games.
“It says a lot about the character of the guys on this ballclub. We’ll continue to roll,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Those one-run games, that’s the name of the game for us.”
Brett Veach thought he was in good shape offensively after adding wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency Kenny Stabler Jersey
, and that the Kansas City Chiefs‘ most pressing needs were entirely on defense.
So, he used the entire draft to address them.
After using their first three picks on that side of the ball, Veach used the final day of the draft to select three more on Saturday.
Texas A&M safety Armani Watts went in the fourth round, cornerback Tremon Smith went in the sixth round and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie went two picks later.
They joined Ole Miss pass rusher Breeland Speaks, Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel in filling out the Chiefs’ defense-heavy draft class.
”Listen, all drafts are unique in their own way in regards to those players and the positions you feel the depth is,” Veach said. ”Every year is different.”
Evidently, there was plenty of talent available on defense this year – so much so that the Chiefs think one of their picks can play the other side of the ball.
McKenzie worked out at guard for the Chiefs at the combine, and is talented enough that they want to give him a shot there.
The Chiefs figure to be one of the most explosive offenses in the league next season, even with new quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. Reigning rushing champ Kareem Hunt, speedy Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill and star tight end Travis Kelce join Watkins in giving coach Andy Reid plenty of options.
But there were numerous holes on an aging defense, one that was gutted by the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs last season.
The Chiefs moved on from erstwhile linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali, released safety Ron Parker and even traded their top cover corner, Marcus Peters.
They made a couple of moves in free agency Larry Warford Jersey
, signing linebacker Anthony Hitchens and defensive tackle Xavier Williams, but chose to primarily fill out a defense in need of a nasty streak through the draft.
”Your expectations are always for guys to come in and compete for starting job, or see a lot of playing time, and the higher you pick the more confident you are in those guys coming in,” Veach said. ”You hope those guys will come in and play right away, or be part of a steady rotation.”
The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round pick, but Veach was high on the three defensive players he added on the second day. The trio of selections Saturday provides depth, special teams talent and massive upside.
Here is a closer look at the Chiefs’ draft class:
SPEAKING OF STARTING: Speaks probably has the best chance to get on the field right away, especially if outside linebacker Dee Ford’s recovery from a back injury takes longer than expected. Even then, Speaks is a better-rounded prospect and could soon find himself starting opposite Justin Houston.
”You want safeties and you want corners,” Veach said, ”but you have to affect the quarterback. You can’t go out there and play 7-on-7. And we looked at it as the last chance to get a guy.”
RIVAL ROOKIE: McKenzie’s father is Reggie McKenzie, the longtime NFL linebacker and the current GM of the AFC West-rival Oakland Raiders. ”I didn’t talk to the dad,” said Chiefs area scout Pat Sperduto Will Hernandez Jersey
,” but I’ve talked to the kid a bunch of times. It was kind of a chuckle when we took his son.”
DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: Nnadi also could slide into the rotation right away, and his development will be important in the near future. Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Jarvis Jenkins are free agents after next season, and Williams and Chris Jones hit free agency the following offseason.
THE LATE PICKS: Watts was a four-year starter for Texas A&M and could slide into Parker’s spot alongside star safety Eric Berry. He was a third-team All-American after making 82 tackles and four picks as a senior, and a name the Chiefs didn’t expect to fall to them.
Smith was a tackling machine at Central Arkansas, and at 6-foot and 190 pounds, possesses the kind of size the Chiefs covet in a man-press cornerback. McKenzie is a mammoth, 320-pound defensive lineman who has the talent, makeup and lower-body strength to transition to offensive guard.
”We try to make it not complicated. Just watch the tape,” Veach said, ”and these guys play hard. Sometimes you get cute. Every little test, agility test, bend and this and that. Just an old rule of thumb: Does he make plays? Does he play hard? And these guys do.”
— Carson Wentz Jersey