As Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox rounded the bases at an emotionally infested Yankee Stadium on Sunday night after hitting a three-run home run off Miguel Castro, New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler had to sit back and smile at the trade he made in April that sent Castro to the Yankees and brought back reliever Joely Rodriguez. That trade was one that turned heads for all the wrong reasons five weeks ago from a Mets perspective, but it is time to reconsider the effectiveness of the trade.
Rodriguez has turned his season around after an ugly start, and is getting crucial outs for the Mets right now.
Rodriguez has a season ERA of 3.86 and a FIP of 2.96. but in his last 12 appearances, he has given up just one earned run in 10.2 innings pitched, with a .114 batting average and .143 slugging percentage against him dating back to April 19. That is quite a turnaround, considering he gave up 5 runs in his first 3.1 innings pitched this year.
Heck, he even rewarded himself for turning his season around by watching part of the game on Sunday on the rocks away from the bullpen at Coors Field. Too bad the security guards didn't let him stay there for long (plus he had to get one king-sized out anyways in the Mets' 2-0 win). That's the symbol of his turnaround.
Buck Showalter has called upon Joely Rodriguez to pitch in the eighth inning in some capacity in each of his last five outings, and three of those were high leverage situations. All of them he was called into the game with runners on base with two outs, coming in to get one huge out against a left-handed power hitter. And in each instance, he's been successful, getting hitters like Juan Soto and Ryan McMahon out on one pitch, and Tommy Edman on three pitches.
The analytical comparisons in 2022 are overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Joely Rodriguez.
Entering Monday's action, Rodriguez ranks in the top 10 percent of the league in strikeout rate, whiff rate, and chase rate, and top 5 percent in average exit velocity and hard hit rate. The biggest issue for Rodriguez right now is the walks, where he ranks in the 12th percentile and has issued 4.5 walks per nine innings.
On the other side, Castro's rankings in average exit velocity, xERA, strikeout rate, and chase rate are in the bottom half, while the walk and barrel rate ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the league. Since April 21, Castro has an opponents' batting average over .300 and a 5.40 ERA. Talk about a turnaround for the worse for Castro.
This cross-town trade has most certainly taken a different turn over the last month, but this is yet another example of Billy Eppler's strong offseason paying off.