Burning the K-Rod at Both Ends


Francisco Rodriguez pitched two innings in last night’s loss, but Mets manager Jerry Manuel assured reporters after the game that his high-priced closer would be “ready to go” in the series finale tonight. After all, he’d thrown “less than 30 pitches”. Apparently, had Rodriguez thrown 30 or more, he’d have received a day off.

I’d love to have seen Manuel and Dan Warthen hunched over a calculator banging out that formula for bullpen success.

For those keeping score, K-Rod threw 16 pitches in a meaningless 7-0 victory on Sunday night vs. the Nationals, had a day off, threw 20 pitches on Tuesday, and 21 pitches last night, for a total of 57 pitches over four days. We can’t predict K-Rod’s pitch count if he goes tonight, but we know he’s averaging about 16 pitches per inning. Assuming he gets into the game and throws that many, Frankie will have expended 57 pitches in three straight days, and 73 over five days. We know he doesn’t “let up” on any pitch, so add in the high-stress factor of those tosses.

If indeed K-Rod pitches tonight, it would be the third time this season he threw three days in a row (not games, Jerry, days). Technically, it would be the fifth time, because he threw FOUR days in a row twice this year (May 4-7 & May 12-15 were the previous runs).

But K-Rod can handle it, right? Like fellow countryman Johan Santana, he’s a man, right?

Not sure. During last year’s record-breaking season, K-Rod threw in back-to-back-to-back days five times. April 13-15 (49 pitches); April 23-25 (32 pitches); June 2-4 (33 pitches); June 21-23 (41 pitches); August 28-30 (33 pitches). . He never threw for four days in a row in 2008, but he did do it once in 2007 — which was the only time that year he threw in as many as three consecutive days. That run was bookended by three days of rest prior, and four days’ rest afterward.

Which brings up a key note: whenever Angels manager Mike Scioscia rode K-Rod especially hard, he followed that up with 3-4 days’ rest. Jerry Manuel has thus far followed that pattern, as K-Rod was rested four days after each of his two four-game-straight marathons.

But, on Friday the Mets begin a three-game series with the Yankees. Do you think K-Rod is going to be held out all weekend?

The forecast calls for rain this afternoon, and thunderstorms through the evening, so the point may be moot. Still, the handling of Rodriguez is something that should be monitored, if we expect him to be at full strength later in the season.

For a comparison of how the top teams use their bullpens, Download The Bullpen Blueprint (it’s free!).

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. TheDZA June 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm
    Good point Joe – and with the tough month the Mets have coming up, AND the other closer not available he could be stretched.
    Looks like Parnell may get a few chances? Feliciano (all of 10 career saves)? If they aren’t getting used in the 6th/7th that is…we need a middle relief guy. Hey maybe Jerry remembers this guy Stokes? Used to soak up a couple of innings when he pitched for the…Hang on… he’s still on the roster!
  2. Paul June 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm
    Yeah even the announcers barely acknowledge Stokes’ existence. He’s been great this year.
  3. EastFallowfield June 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm
    Angels treated KRod more gingerly, even though it was his walk season.

    They could have pulled what Brewers did with Sabathia and pitch him til his arm fell off.

  4. […] on the other hand, had K-Rod pitch multiple innings four times during the year, and used him FOUR games in a row on two occasions in the month of May. In 2008, K-Rod exceeded 28 pitches in an outing only once. In 2009, he threw 30 pitches or more 7 […]