When Manny Rodriguez made his triple-digit-velo debut with the Cubs in Washington last Friday night, it was easy to dream on a future role in the Cubs bullpen. The 24-year-old righty (25 tomorrow, hey, happy birthday!) had cruised through the minor leagues this year after missing the 2020 season both because of the pandemic and a biceps injury. We knew we’d be seeing him post-trade-deadline since he was already on the 40-man roster, but we didn’t know how he would look and what his initial role would be.
Last night, he played the part of closer in a one-run game, notching his first career save with a big smile after:
Rodriguez wasn’t missing bats last night, but he got the strikeout whiff for one of the outs, and didn’t give up much hard contact. He also touched 100 mph twice again, so that’s always fun.
So, after just two appearances – the second of which came with a walk-off homer by the Nationals – Rodriguez got a traditional save opportunity (the first since the Craig Kimbrel trade when he was fully rested (Kyle Ryan got a three-run save opportunity over the weekend when Rodriguez was possibly down)). Does that mean Rodriguez is “the closer” now? Eh, probably not strictly. When he’s fresh and the opposing order for the 9th isn’t featuring a ton of lefties? Yeah, I think he might get a lot of those.
And while the games may not “matter” in a postseason sense, so the roles don’t “matter” for whatever happens the rest of this year, the roles question absolutely does matter for development purposes. Rodriguez getting these high-leverage shots is huge for next year, when he figures to get a shot in a setup role (at least) right out of the gate.
I love how happy Manny is. pic.twitter.com/tSXH8ndOmT
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) August 5, 2021