Tag: Francisco Rodriguez

Francisco Rodriguez Contract Option Picked Up by Tigers: Details, Reaction

The Detroit Tigers have picked up their $6 million contract option on pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, the team announced Thursday.

Rodriguez saved 44 games last year while posting a 3.24 ERA in his first season with the Tigers, who acquired him in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in November 2015.

Although he had five blown saves and his strikeout rate reached a career low at 8.0 per nine innings, the closer found a way to help the team late in games throughout the 2016 campaign.

“We liked the job K-Rod did last season and the numbers show he was a reliable closer for us,” general manager Al Avila said, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. “He stabilizes the back end of our bullpen and provides veteran leadership to our younger bullpen arms.”

Rodriguez is MLB‘s active leader with 430 saves in his career, good for fourth on the all-time list behind only Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. He has been selected to six All-Star Games and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times.

While he has lost some life on his fastball, Rodriguez remains one of the most consistent relievers in baseball. He is set to retain his role as the Tigers closer, with Alex Wilson and Justin Wilson remaining key cogs at the back end of the bullpen.

The 34-year-old had a $2 million buyout if the team had declined the option on the final year of his contract.


Salary information via Baseball-Reference.com.

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Francisco Rodriguez Ties Eckersley for 6th Place on All-Time Saves List

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez survived a rocky ninth inning to pick up his 390th career save in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals, moving into a tie with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for sixth place on MLB‘s all-time saves list, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.

The 34-year-old reliever appeared to have an easy save coming, as he entered Wednesday’s contest with a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning after Jordan Zimmermann, Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson combined to keep the Royals off the board through eight frames.

The final inning started innocently enough on a groundout by Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales, but outfielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez then hit back-to-back home runs to bring Kansas City within one run with only one out in the frame.

Royals second baseman Omar Infante followed with a groundout, but speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson then drew a walk and proceeded to swipe second base. 

After shortstop Alcides Escobar drew another walk for the Royals, Rodriguez finally put the game away by striking out third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Although the poor outing dropped his ERA to 7.11 for the season, Rodriguez has now converted four consecutive saves since blowing one in his first appearance.

Assuming he holds onto the closer’s job for the rest of the season, he’ll have a good chance to move up to fourth place on the all-time saves list, as Billy Wagner (422) and John Franco (424) are both within striking distance.

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Francisco Rodriguez to Tigers: Latest Trade Details, Comments, Reaction

The Detroit Tigers beefed up their bullpen in a big way Wednesday, as they acquired veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers announced that they will receive minor league infielder Javier Betancourt and a player to be named later in the deal.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Tigers will take on the remaining $9.5 million on Rodriguez’s contract through 2016, which includes a $2 million buyout in 2017.

Tigers general manager Al Avila commented on the decision to bring in Rodriguez, per James Schmehl of MLive.com: “We had strong recommendations from our scouts on Frankie. He has the proven track record we targeted in our search for a bona fide closer.”

The 33-year-old K-Rod is entering his 15th MLB season. The six-time All-Star is seventh on the all-time saves list with 386, and he is coming off a 2015 campaign in which he racked up 38 saves for the moribund Brewers.

Since spending the first seven seasons of his MLB career with the Los Angeles Angels, Rodriguez has enjoyed stints with the New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Brewers.

K-Rod was primarily a setup man during his first tenure with the Brew Crew before getting dealt to the O’s in 2013. He subsequently re-signed with Milwaukee prior to the 2014 season, though, and he has once again become one of the top closers in baseball.

Finishing games has been a well-documented issue for the Tigers in recent years. Joakim Soria had some success in 2015 with 23 saves and a 2.85 ERA before getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the likes of Joe Nathan, Bruce Rondon, Jose Valverde and many others have faltered in the ninth inning over the past few seasons.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Tigers had one of MLB’s worst bullpens last season:

Rodriguez is the active career leader in saves, and he set the single-season record with 62 saves in 2008.

While the Tigers struggled to the tune of a 74-87 record in 2015, they have a chance to become players in the AL Central once again in 2016 largely due to the presence of big-time hitters such as Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler.

Holding a lead was a huge issue for Detroit even when it was among Major League Baseball’s best teams, so Rodriguez could go a long way toward the Tigers’ return to prominence.

In giving up Betancourt, the Tigers are losing a 20-year-old second baseman who hit .263 in High-A ball last season.

The youngster has undeniable talent, but it is a small price to pay if K-Rod ultimately puts an end to Detroit’s ninth-inning woes.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jonathan Lucroy, Starlin Castro, Clay Buchholz

Free agency is hogging most MLB headlines with players eligible to sign with teams as early as Friday, but there is still plenty of buzz on potential trades that could contribute to the personnel shifts among the baseball landscape.

Here is a glance at the latest names rumored on the trade market in the young offseason.

Brewers Eyeing Rebuild Through Trades

The Milwaukee Brewers finished 26 games under .500 a year removed from a September meltdown that cost them the National League Central after leading the division for 159 days.

They are reportedly in a rebuild mode and have been linked to trade talks surrounding first baseman Adam Lind, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Francisco Rodriguez, per Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine:

Lucroy is a career .282/.340/.430 hitter and is considered one of the best defensive backstops in the game with a .992 fielding percentage in six seasons. He spent time on the disabled list with a fractured toe in 2015 but has played an average of 118.3 games per year and was fourth in the NL MVP voting in 2014.

Despite speculation, general manager David Sterns indicated last week Lucroy should be back next year, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Rodriguez tied for seventh in the majors with 38 saves in 2015 despite the Brewers’ overall struggles. His velocity has steadily decreased from 94.4 miles per hour to 89.7 between 2007 and 2015, per FanGraphs, but he proved he’s still a threat in critical situations with only seven blown saves in parts of three seasons with Milwaukee. 

He’s scheduled to make $11.5 million the next two seasons, per Spotrac, for a team that had the 10th lowest payroll. If the Brewers aren’t winning many games, it may not be practical to keep that kind of financial commitment. 

On Adam Lind, the Brewers exercised the one-year, $8 million option on the first baseman Tuesday, though the team’s RBI leader could be a trade chip, as Olney noted. The Brewers tried moving Lind near the trade deadline last year, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though talks eventually fell through with the St. Louis Cardinals.

General manager David Stearns hinted the team will be much younger in the coming years, per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, though how it does so remains to be seen:

I think we recognize that we’re going to have a young roster, whether that’s this year, next year, the year after. We’re going to have a young group of core players for the foreseeable future, and we want to make sure that we surrounded them with members of a staff who are used to and comfortable with working with younger players.

Baseball America ranked the Brewers farm system 19th, which could prompt Stearns to deal a few veterans to free up cash and build a younger foundation to compete in the rugged NL Central, which featured three playoff teams in 2015.


Cubs Shopping Starlin Castro

With a crowded infield full of young and productive talent, the Chicago Cubs‘ Starlin Castro has been linked to trade talks as far back as the 2014 deadline.

A deal never manifested this past year due to Castro’s midseason struggles—he was benched for rookie Addison Russell at shortstop in early August, then became the team’s starting second baseman a week later and through the postseason. But given Castro’s strong finish to the regular season, the NLCS bridesmaids are reportedly shopping the infielder again, per Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score:


Castro hit .353/.373/.588 with six home runs, 23 RBI and just 18 strikeouts after his benching, and the Cubs went 30-17 in that span. His upward trend to finish the season should make him more marketable this offseason. 

Castro is also just 25, a three-time All-Star and has played in at least 150 games in four of the past five seasons. He’d be a valuable asset to most. 

The Cubs can fill Castro’s void with Javier Baez at second and could lean on Tommy La Stella as a backup utility infielder.  

Baez was also rumored in talks—with the San Diego Padres in July, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports—but he wouldn’t return as much as Castro and is locked up through 2020 at a convenient price, per Rotoworld

A realistic way Castro stays is if the Cubs are unable to re-sign outfielder Dexter Fowler, who became a free agent this week. Chicago could then move the versatile Baez to the outfield and keep Castro at second. But Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com noted that’s unlikely:

Fowler had a big second half, getting on-base about 39 percent of the time, leading to speculation he’ll get a long-term contract after earning $9.5 million last season. The Cubs have stated their offseason goals are to land more pitching, which might not leave room in the budget for Fowler’s return.

The Cubs are the early favorites to win it all in 2016, per Odds Shark, and they may start their hopeful run by dealing Castro to bulk up their roster in more needing areas.


Clay Buchholz Could Be Red Sox Trade Bait

The Boston Red Sox this week picked up the $13 million option on starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, but like the Brewers’ Lind, the move may have been executed to trade the veteran right-hander, per Ian Browne of MLB.com:

Buchholz would be a costly add given his limited return potential. He’s never made 30 starts or reached 200 innings in his nine-year career and has exceeded a 4.50 ERA in two of the last four seasons. 

But Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote some teams have already expressed interest in Buchholz behind closed doors:

Buchholz’s name is already rolling off the lips of some mid- to small-market teams who believe they could trade for him if the Red Sox have bigger fish to fry in pursuit of a true ace who can stay healthy.

The Red Sox are reportedly in the market to add an ace via trade or free agency this offseason, per Ricky Doyle of NESN.com, which could slide Buchholz to the back of the rotation and shadow what could be more limited contributions. 

Buchholz went 7-7 in 18 starts last year with a 3.26 ERA, 1.209 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 before being placed on the 15-, then 60-day disabled list in July, which he never returned from. 

One AL GM told Cafardo that when healthy, Buchholz is “as good as anyone out there.”

New president Dave Dombrowski will be as busy as any executive this offseason, and Buchholz may be a chip used to rid a sizable bill from the payroll while yielding a few younger players to build around. 

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MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Week 17 News, Rumors and Speculation

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is officially in the rearview mirror, but that doesn’t mean that big leaguers like James Shields are off the market just yet.

Between now and the end of the month, a player can be traded to any team if he clears waivers. If the given major leaguer does get claimed, he can be traded to the club that put in the claim.

Usually, a player has to have a flaw to make it through waivers. For Shields, that flaw is that he’s pitching on an outsized contract.

In the list of trade ideas that follows, there are several other players who are in a similar situation as the veteran starter. They are guys who won’t be cheap but who have the talent to help a contender that wasn’t able to check off all the bullet points on its trade-season to-do list before August arrived.

Plus, there’s also room on the list for one former star whose season has so far been wrecked by an injury but who could be returning to the diamond soon.

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Francisco Rodriguez Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Star Pitcher

With the Milwaukee Brewers’ pursuit of closer Jonathan Papelbon dying down, the team is turning its attention back to Francisco Rodriguez

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt has the most recent report:

K-Rod enjoyed a tremendous season in his return to the permanent closer role in 2014, compiling a 3.04 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, 73 strikeouts and 44 saves for the Brewers. 

His ERA and WHIP were both higher than Papelbon’s, but Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot suggested it may not be that simple: 

Of course, the 13-year veteran is one of the best players remaining on the free-agent market, and CoverThoseBases.com’s Devan Fink reported there may be some competition for his services from the Los Angeles Dodgers:

Although agent Scott Boras is notorious for driving up prices, Rodriguez doesn’t likely have much bargaining power this late in the offseason. 

Because of that, there’s a good chance the 33-year-old could be had for minimal risk. 

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Finding Love and Happiness in Milwaukee: The Renaissance of Francisco Rodriguez

Used to be that Francisco Rodriguez was done. Right?

Sizzle slipping from his heater. Relegated to then-closer John Axford’s setup man in 2011 and ’12, and Jim Henderson’s in ’13. Going, going…

“That’s the funny thing about everything,” Rodriguez says while sitting at his locker during a recent trip to San Diego and staring back at a 13-year career that has him, at the moment, 11th on the all-time saves list at 343 and back at the top of his game. “I was supposed to suck. I wasn’t supposed to be in this situation anymore. Not saving games for people.

“For me, I know what I had left and what I didn’t. I never lost confidence at all. I patiently waited for an opportunity. And when it came, I took advantage of it.

“That’s all.”

On Thursday, Milwaukee opened an enormous four-game weekend series against St. Louis, a meeting made all the more important by the Brewers‘ ill-timed eight-game losing streak. Now they desperately need to get a few more save opportunities in front of K-Rod, pronto. This September swoon is threatening to wipe out a summer in which they’ve spent 150 of 158 days in first place.

If they can just regain their balance and composure the way their closer has regained his, there is still time to author a meaningful and happy baseball ending in a city Rodriguez has come to know and love.

“Adversity,” says Rodriguez, tied for third in the National League with 39 saves. “Every single ballplayer’s been through it in different ways. That’s part of life.

“One day you’re raising your arms. They can’t beat you. The next day, you’re on your knees.

“After the storm, the calm arrives. That’s what you wait for. As a human being, everybody goes through it, passes through it, and then there’s a bright future ahead.”

A few years ago, a hot-blooded and cocky Rodriguez would have had neither the minutes for reflection nor the patience to wait for that bright future.

After bursting into the game during the 2002 postseason with the brilliance of the North Star, Rodriguez took over as Angels closer in 2005. He immediately reeled off four consecutive seasons of 40 or more saves, setting the major league record with 62 in ’08 before signing a three-year, $37 million free-agent deal with the Mets prior to the ’09 season.

You may have heard how that one turned out: The Mets flamed out, and in August of 2010, K-Rod was arrested and hauled away from Citi Field after an altercation with his father-in-law became physical just outside of the team’s clubhouse.

The Brewers acquired him the night of the All-Star Game in ’11. Rodriguez, a man in desperate need of a fresh start, didn’t just spend the rest of that summer as Axford’s setup man, but he also went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA and only three—count ’em—saves in ’12 while setting up again.

He had lost significant velocity on his fastball (from an average of 96 mph to 91), a significant chunk of his reputation and, by all appearances, any chance at a significant future.

Storms? Yeah, he’s hoisted the umbrella to weather a few.

“It was tough,” he says of his arrest and family problems in New York. “Challenging. Painful. Any bad word you can use to describe it. Only God and I know what I was going through every day and night.

“Looking back, it made me stronger. It was difficult. You have to walk in other people’s shoes.”

Iced out of the game during the winter of 2012-13 following his highly disappointing summer of ’12, he remained unsigned until the Brewers extended a branch on April 17 last year.

No, it’s no coincidence that Rodriguez, right now, is on a mission to put Milwaukee’s name on the October map.

“They gave me an opportunity last year when nobody wanted me,” he says. “They opened the door again even after I was horrible in 2012.

“The only way I can repay them is by getting the job done.”

He wasn’t even supposed to close this summer. That was going to be Jim Henderson’s job. But when Henderson couldn’t get things going this spring, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke approached Rodriguez the day before the season started and said, “Hey, what would you think of closing?”

Roenicke didn’t have to ask twice.

“Over the years, his fastball has dropped in velocity,” says Roenicke, who was the Angels’ third-base coach in ’02 when Rodriguez first stepped into the majors. “Last year, he started throwing the changeup, and it immediately was a great pitch for him.”

That is the pitch that, at 32, has put K-Rod back on top. According to the charts at FanGraphs, he is throwing it 30.3 percent of the time this year, with his overall fastball usage dropping to 54.9 percent.

During his 62-save 2008 summer in Anaheim, he used the changeup only 16.8 percent of the time, his fastball 50.7 percent of the time and his slider 31.6 percent.

He has found peace, contentment and success in Milwaukee, to the degree that when the Brewers traded him to the Orioles last July because they were out of the playoff race, he knew he would re-sign with the Brewers for ’14.

“We like having him here,” Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun says. “He’s been incredibly successful, and he’s been great for us. I think people forget how successful he’s been.

“He’s one of the best closers of all time, and he’s young. I think people think of him being older than he is because he got to the big leagues so young. But he’s been so great for us all year, so consistent for us, and for us, we need to win the games we’re supposed to win.

“When we get to the ninth inning with a slim lead, we feel really good about our chances.”

Rodriguez, who has converted 39 of 44 save opportunities, always has been comfortable with Roenicke. He still remembers that Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin was in attendance the first time Rodriguez threw for pro scouts in Venezuela when he was 15 (Melvin was the Texas Rangers‘ GM at the time).

“It’s a nice family,” Rodriguez says of Milwaukee. “The trainers, coaching staff, equipment guys, clubhouse guys, players…everything is nice, and it makes you feel good.

“They’ve treated me and my family extremely well here, and you cannot put a price tag on that at all. You cannot buy peace and tranquility, and that’s what I’ve got here. I don’t have to worry about things.”

He and his wife have two children (a two-and-a-half-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old) with another due in November.

“At this stage of my career, you want peace and a city you can enjoy with your family,” Rodriguez says. “A city that’s a nice place to be.”

Milwaukee is it. He talks of spending rare off-days shopping with his family, walking around the city, at the Wisconsin Dells water parks or even driving to Chicago for a visit.

“Always, there’s something different,” he says.

Same as in his career. He talks about “always reinventing yourself, year in and year out,” and as the Brewers battle and K-Rod leads, there are few truer examples of what can be one of the game’s hoariest cliches.

“I always look at the negative of my outing and try not to do it for the next one,” he says in a season in which there have been precious few negatives. “At the end of the day, I ask myself, ‘Was I prepared for the game or not? Did I need more stretching? Did I need more long toss? Did I need to throw more fastballs?’

“You try to get better, instead of going backward.”

In Milwaukee, he’s done a marvelous job of that. And now comes his most delicate save opportunity of the year: to help keep the slumping Brewers doing the same.

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Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez Passes Rollie Fingers for 11th Place on Saves List

Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez earned his 342nd career save Saturday, moving past Rollie Fingers to take sole possession of 11th place on the all-time saves list, per Mike Vassallo, the Brewers’ senior director of media relations.

Rodriguez entered Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth inning to protect a two-run lead for starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, who had out-dueled Clayton Kershaw over the game’s first eight innings.  

Rodriguez gave up a leadoff home run to the resurgent Matt Kemp, but he then followed with two strikeouts and a groundout to lock down the 3-2 victory.

The save was Rodriguez’s MLB-leading 38th, already the fourth-best total of his career and his most since setting the single-season record of 62 saves back in 2008.

According to MLB Stat of the Day, “K-Rod,” as he’s affectionately known, has the most saves (342) through his age-32 season of any pitcher in major league history.

K-Rod, who started 2014 with 304 career saves, has passed 10 retired closers on the all-time list this season, including Hall of Famer Goose Gossage (310), Rick Aguilera (318), Francisco Cordero (329), John Wetteland (330) and, most recently, Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers (341). Next up on the list in 10th place is Randy Myers at 347.

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Francisco Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers Agree to 1-Year Deal

The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly reached an agreement with Francisco Rodriguez on a one-year contract. The relief pitcher previously pitched with the organization for parts of the last three seasons.

Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com first reported the deal was complete:

The Brewers made it official:

Adam McCalvy of MLB.com had the contract details:

A baseball source said the sides were close Friday to sealing a one-year, Major League contract that would return the veteran reliever to Milwaukee, where he has pitched parts of the past three seasons. Rodriguez would earn a $3.25 million base salary, with $550,000 more available in incentives.

Rodriguez split last season between the Brewers and Baltimore Orioles. He posted a 2.70 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 46.2 innings.

However, McCalvy confirmed that he won’t be the closer:

In 134 appearances for the Brewers, he’s compiled a 3.15 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He mostly served in a setup role during his time with Milwaukee, registering just 13 saves. He racked up 291 saves during his time with the Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets.

Rodriguez will likely return to eighth-inning duty for the Brewers once again with Jim Henderson holding down the closer role, at least to open the season. It’s always nice to have a pitcher with K-Rod’s closing experience available as a security blanket, though.

The 32-year-old reliever is a four-time All-Star and led the American League in saves three times with the Angels. Although he’s dropped off from that peak in recent seasons, he should still provide good value for the one-year deal.

Milwaukee gets the veteran bullpen arm it needed with spring training on the horizon. Rodriguez gets another chance to prove himself on a short-term deal.

It’s an agreement that should work out well for both sides.


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How the Francisco Rodriguez to Orioles Trade Impacts AL East Race

The Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a deal that will send Francisco Rodriguez to Baltimore in exchange for INF Nick Delmonico.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the trade that will ship arguably the best closer on the trading block to the AL East contender.

The best division in baseball just got even better after this trade, as the Orioles picked up a top-shelf reliever in K-Rod who has been spectacular this season. Rodriguez has an ERA of 1.09 and a WHIP of 1.05 in 25 appearances this season. He’s also 10-for-10 in save opportunities.

K-Rod is the type of reliever who has the potential to completely change a playoff race, and the O’s are hoping he will do just that.

Baltimore sits in third place in the AL East, 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. The division is incredibly close, as four teams are above .500.

Here’s how the standings in the AL East through Monday’s games:

Place Team W L PCT GB
1 Boston Red Sox 60 41 .594
2 Tampa Bay Rays 59 41 .590 .5
3 Baltimore Orioles 57 43 .570 2.5
4 New York Yankees 52 47 .525 7
5 Toronto Blue Jays 45 53 .459 13.5

With so many teams bunched up and the Orioles having 29 games left against divisional rivals (including the final 20 games of the season), acquiring K-Rod could prove to be the difference in the AL East.

By adding Rodriguez, the Orioles add a talented arm in the bullpen, and he will be used primarily as a setup man for closer Jim Johnson.

However, if Johnson struggles, K-Rod can also be plugged in as the closer, as he has a ton of experience in that role.

Johnson hasn’t had an easy 2013. After not allowing an earned run in his first 11 appearances, he posted an ERA of 9.75 in the month of May, blowing four saves and converting only seven.

While Johnson has picked it up as of late, he has also blown two saves in his last 10 appearances, and is up to six blown saves on the year.

The team is going to stick with Johnson for now, however, but if he struggles anymore, he could be replaced.

Having a guy who can maintain a lead through the eighth inning effectively is a huge help. The Orioles now have seven guys with an ERA below 4.00 in the bullpen. That kind of depth will take pressure off of the struggling starting rotation.

The team’s starters haven’t been as good as expected this season, with the team’s best pitcher being Wei-Yin Chen, who has made just 10 starts all year.

While Miguel Gonzalez has also been solid with an ERA of 3.34, guys like Chris Tillman, Jason Hammel and the rest of the starters have been sub-par, which is why the team ranks 28th in the MLB in ERA at 4.30.

With two legitimate closers on the team, opponents will have to beat the O’s in the first seven innings of games, as K-Rod and Johnson will shut the door after that.

The biggest weakness Baltimore has had all season has been pitching, which is why the team sits in third place in its own division despite ranking third in baseball in runs scored. While the team wasn’t able to improve its biggest need (starting pitching) because of a scarce market, the team did the next best thing by adding to its bullpen.

We know that this move makes the Orioles much better, but the question remains as to whether or not this will be enough to shake things up in the AL East.

The O’s have been unable to capitalize on the offense Chris Davis and Manny Machado have been providing because of their pitching.

With K-Rod in the pen, that will change because he can help shut the door against opponents earlier.

Baltimore ranks 27th in MLB in runs allowed in the seventh inning of games because of its starters. Now the starters will only be asked to go six innings before the team’s many bullpen arms take over. As a result, Baltimore can expect to win more games.

This little boost is all the team needs to hop over the Rays and contend with the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

If these two teams continue to play at this high level and are not ailed by the injury bug, the division will likely come down to the final series of the season, in which Baltimore will host Boston.

If the division does come down to the final three games, the Orioles have the edge, as they are 29-20 at home and are 5-2 versus the Red Sox this season.

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