A look at Francisco Rodriguez’ 30-pitch outing in Wednesday’s win over the Reds.

Two games played by the Mets, two wins and two saves by Francisco Rodriguez.  However, the two outings for Rodriguez could not be more different.  On Opening Day, he came in and had a 1-2-3 ninth and retired the side on 10 pitches.  Wednesday he loaded the bases on two walks and an error and needed 30 pitches to escape the jam.

I wanted to compare the PitchFX data for his two outings but unfortunately I only have access to one of them.  At least it’s the more interesting outing from last night where the data is available.  All PitchFX information comes from BrooksBaseball.Net, a terrific site run by Dan Brooks.

Pitch Type Avg. Speed Max Speed Pitches Strike %
Fastball 92.88 93.9 11 27.27
Changeup 82.37 85.5 6 50.0
Slider 78.53 7838 3 100
Curve 80.25 81.7 10 30.0

Rodriguez threw only 12 of his 30 pitches for strikes and he had trouble with both his fastball and his curve.  The following is a chart of his strike zone location.  Rodriguez’ fastballs are in red, changeups in yellow, sliders in orange and curves in burgundy.


As you can tell, most of his fastballs and curves missed low in the strike zone.  The Reds announcers wondered if the hitters should approach Rodriguez with the belief that he was unable to throw three straight strikes.  Along with Thom Brennaman’s odd choice of words to emphasize during his delivery (there’s another ball FROM Rodriguez), it made for an uncomfortable ending to a game the Mets led by five runs in the seventh inning.

But the bottom line is while this may have been a game the team lost last September, the new relievers did just enough to pull out a win.  Sean Green, J.J. Putz and Rodriguez all pitched in the game, and while not as effective as they were in the opener, they combined for one run in 2.1 innings.

After wowing in his first outing, in which he threw strikes with eight of his 10 pitches, Rodriguez was less spectacular in his second appearance for the Mets.  After the game, he told the New York Post, “sometimes you aren’t at your best and you just have to fight through it.”

The really encouraging thing for Rodriguez is that even though he wasn’t at his best, his fastball was better than it was last year.  His 92.88 average speed topped the 91.9 he posted last season with his heater.  It will be interesting to track both his control and his velocity throughout his appearances this season.

Last year, Rodriguez got off to a poor start in April, bothered by a sore ankle.  His high velocity in his April 29th game last year was beneath his average velocity Wednesday night when he was having an off game.  Obviously, the control was not there last night and Mets fans will have to hope that was just an aberration.