The Boston Red Sox’s rotation is in need of a solid No. 3 starter behind Chris Sale and Rick Porcello.
With David Price on the disabled list and Steven Wright struggling, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is staking his claim to that distinction.
Rodriguez has allowed one earned run over his last 12 innings thrown and had been working on a scoreless streak of 15 1/3 innings before surrendering a home run to Kris Bryant in the fifth inning.
The Red Sox left-hander now has struck out 31 batters over 23 1/3 innings so far this season, which equates to 12 strikeouts per nine innings.
Rodriguez has been steadily improving throughout the season, and that continued Sunday. The 24-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.70 and walked only two batters while throwing 66 percent strikes. He came into the game averaging 6.2 walks per nine innings pitched, which is a far cry from the 3.3 walks per nine innings that he has averaged throughout his short major league career.
Indeed, Rodriguez’s command has been one of the things holding him back, as the walks have led to higher pitch counts and shorter outings for the Red Sox lefty. But manager John Farrell liked what he saw Sunday night.
“He was really good,” Farrell said, as seen on “NESN Sports Today.” “When you look at the swing-and-miss on his fastball, the second time through, and even into the third time through, a well-above-average changeup that he was able to throw for strikes and put a number of hitters away with. He was really good.”
Rodriguez recorded only five strikeouts against left-handed hitters with his changeup during the 2016 season. He had three such strikeouts Sunday night against the Cubs, according to The Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson.
If Rodriguez continues on his upward trajectory, the Red Sox’s rotation could be a fearsome force once Price returns from the elbow injury that has sidelined him since March.
Here are more notes from Red Sox vs. Cubs.
— Sunday was Rodriguez’s 20th start in which he’s allowed one earned run or fewer through 45 career starts. No other Red Sox pitcher since 1913 has tallied as many such starts through 46 games.
— Andrew Benintendi became the first Red Sox rookie to lead the team in hits (30) and RBIs (14) through the month of April since Fred Lynn in 1975.
— Hanley Ramirez long has been known as one of the streakiest hitters in the big leagues.
When the Red Sox designated hitter is cold, he’s frigid. But when he gets hot, the ball jumps off his bat like few in the game.
And it looks like he’s starting to get hot.
Ramirez hit a massive home run for the second game in a row Sunday night. One day after hitting a towering 463-foot home run off John Lackey on Saturday, the 33-year-old launched a 440-foot blast off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.
It was Ramirez’s third home run during his current six-game hitting streak. The Red Sox designated hitter is hitting .364 with three home runs and five RBIs during that span.
— Left-handed batters are 1-for-10 so far this season against southpaw reliever Robby Scott.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images