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2018 was bearable because of Dereck Rodriguez

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By far the best surprise of the season beyond Pablo Sandoval pitching a clean inning

MLB: Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

STAT LINE: 6-4, 118.1 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 89 K : 36 BB, 9 home runs allowed

Let us bow our heads and say a prayer for Dereck Rodriguez, savior of the 2018 season.

Yeah, I’m being dramatic, but I had bought an emergency backpack filled with essentials preparing myself for another tragically boring season for the Giants before his flowing locks rolled into town.

You all know the story -

...outfielder with the Twins converted into pitcher, yada yada yada.

...dad is a Hall of Fame catcher aka Pudge’s kid narrative etc.

...where did he come from? LITERALLY WHERE DID HE COME FROM?

Rodriguez had a lot of “narratives” that were attached to his name and reputation but when it comes down to it, the best part about D-Rod is that he stepped up when he was needed and actually EXCEEDED expectation. I spent a good part of his starts waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It never did.

ROLE ON THE 2018 TEAM: With Madison Bumgarner starting off on the disabled list, Jeff Samardzija being a total non-factor in 2018, and Johnny Cueto’s season being cut short, Dereck Rodriguez became the “ace” type figure, arguably one of the strongest pillars in the Giants foundation and pitching rotation. I found myself pondering a one-game playoff situation and whether I would rather put D-Rod out there or MadBum. Think about how insane that is. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised - Rodriguez was being discussed in the Rookie of the Year discussions alongside phenoms Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr.

Dereck was tied for first in quality starts (14) on the team alongside Bumgarner - providing the Giants bullpen and offense something they needed desperately - consistency. He ate innings and he gave the team a chance to win (they often didn’t, but because of anything Rodriguez could have helped). And usually, as rookie pitchers sometimes tend to fade throughout the course of a season, D-Rod got better in the second half (batters were hitting .249 off him before the all-star break and .205 off him after).

Honestly, the guy seems like the real deal.

ROLE ON THE 2019 TEAM: We will see how the sophomore slump affects Rodriguez but based on his rookie season I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be a strong number three pitcher for the Giants (if the Giants don’t trade Bumgarner or something like that in the offseason). The best part of the deal is that he will be under club control for the next six years and won’t be eligible for free agency until after that period. And he’s cheap. Heck yes.

I’ve heard the rumor mill spitballing about trading D-Rod but honestly, you have to think what you’ll get in return for what you’ll be giving up. As it is, the rotation seems shaky and uncertain so having Rodriguez in there as a stabilizer is critical if you want to stay competitive... I guess that’s a big “if”....

GRADE: A-

I gave him a minus for this brief stint on the DL after the scuffle between Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley. I didn’t love that random injury - it reminds me too much of Jeremy Affeldt. That being said, he deserves high marks because he was the best and biggest surprise of the 2018 season. Keep on, keepin’ on, Dereck.