Nationals right-hander Jefrey Rodriguez pitched to a pair of batters into the fifth inning following the 38-minute rain delay Sunday night against the Phillies. He allowed four runs on five hits in four innings with three walks (one intentional) and three strikeouts.
The Nationals came from behind to beat the Phillies, 8-6, to salvage the third game of the series before heading to St. Petersburg, Fla.
“I feel like I did a good job,” Rodriguez said via team interpreter Octavio Martinez.
After the rain delay, Rodriguez walked César Hernández and then hit Rhys Hoskins with a pitch. With those two men on, manager Davey Martinez elected to go to left-hander Sammy Solís to face Odùbel Herrera. Rodriguez ended up throwing 96 pitches, 60 for strikes.
Rodriguez spoke about how he felt after the rain delay and having to get warmed up to go back out and pitch again.
“I felt good,” Rodriguez said via Octavio Martinez. “The only things I really did was stretch out, kept myself loose and then kept my arm loose, kept it going.”
Manager Davey Martinez explained his thought process in making the decision to go back to Rodriguez in that situation, instead of just going straight to the bullpen. Martinez said he was hoping to squeeze one more inning out of the starter before going to relievers.
“You’re going into the top of the 5th inning,” Martinez said. “I told you, our bullpen’s been taxed, they really have, so I felt comfortable leaving him in, see what he can do. (Rodriguez has) got good stuff, he really does. When he learns how to throw strike one and get ahead and finish, he’s going to help us win a lot of games.”
One advance for Rodriguez in this game was his early usage of the changeup, which he did not attempt in his first start June 19 against the Orioles.
“I felt good with it,” Rodriguez said through his interpreter. “I was fortunate enough to get a couple of counts in my favor to be able to use the changeup. Therefore, I used it. I got to get better at it and use it more. That’s why I was trying to use it a lot more tonight, because I have to use it a lot more.”
He got Herrera with his curveball for a swing-and-miss strikeout in the third following the Hoskins solo homer. Rodriguez froze Nick Williams with his curveball in just three pitches to start the fourth. Same thing facing pitcher Nick Pivetta, three pitches, and a knee-buckling curveball for a called third strike to end the frame.
With Jeremy Hellickson and Stephen Strasburg still on the disabled list, there is a good chance Rodriguez will get at least one more start. He has demonstrated his curveball is very good, and can be effective when he places his fastball and uses the curve in the right spots. If Rodriguez can continue to gain confidence in his changeup, that can only help his other pitches and enable him to stay in games longer.