Rodriguez will need to mix in more pitches to get better

Right-hander Jefrey Rodriguez didn’t fare as well in his first major league start for the Nationals as he did in his first outing in Atlanta, but there were still some positive moments.

“It definitely felt better, more normal for me,” Rodriguez said through team interpreter Octavio Martinez. “I’ve always been a starter so that first outing for me in the big leagues I came out of the bullpen that was a first time for me. But today I was able to take my time, prepare myself a little better and I felt more comfortable out there.”

Rodriguez-Throws-Red-Sidebar.jpgRodriguez did allow a pair of two-run shots to the Orioles, leaving after five innings. He allowed five runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

On June 3 in Atlanta, he replaced an injured Jeremy Hellickson, going 4 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits.

“I feel like I didn’t do a bad job,” Rodriguez said. “I did a good job out there with my outing.”

The one issue for Rodriguez is he did rely on his fastball and curveball. He threw his four-seam almost exclusively. In the future, he will need to mix in other pitches to keep hitters off balance.

“That’s what it’s about, making the adjustment,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like I did a good job of making the adjustment from pitch to pitch. I adjusted well. Sometimes I stood back, take a deep breath, take my time and then get back on the mound.”

Rodriguez did strike out six batters, so his stuff was getting swings and misses. But it is extremely difficult for a starting pitcher to go with just the two-seam, four-seam and curveball. Hitters will catch on.

“I think the biggest thing I took from it is the fact that even if I get hit or they have a big inning, I need to still focus on what I got to do and get back in there and keep pitching my way out of it,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t let myself lose myself with that. I mean it’s going to happen.”

Manager Davey Martinez sees promise in the talent level of Rodriguez.

“He’s got really good stuff,” Martinez said. “He’s young. Like I said, we talk to him a lot about going strike one and getting ahead of hitters. He had a lot 2-2, 2-3 counts, made a couple mistakes, but I like what I saw. He’s got electric stuff.”

With the back log of injured starters like Stephen Strasburg and Hellickson, Rodriguez may get another shot in the next five days to start again. The experience from Tuesday will help immensely in his second start. Now he will look to mix in some more of his stuff so hitters don’t figure out his strategy pitch to pitch.

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