Francisco Rodriguez has played parts of three seasons as a Brewer, and all of them started with a surprise. In 2011 the Brewers surprised us all by acquiring him from the Mets, then he surprised the organization by accepting their arbitration offer for 2012, and in mid-April we were all caught off-guard one more time when the Brewers re-signed him as a free agent.
Rodriguez signed a minor league deal on April 17, made four appearances on the farm between May 7-14 and by May 16 he was a Brewer, setting the stage for one of the best stints of his career. He allowed just one run in his first 17 MLB appearances, striking out 17 and walking just three over 16.1 innings. He also moved into the closer role in place of the ineffective John Axford and injured Jim Henderson.
The pitcher we've frequently referred to as "30 pitches of terror" only threw more than 22 once in two months as a Brewer, with the lone exception being a multi-inning extra inning loss. That was also the only time he walked more than one batter in an outing.
The timing of K-Rod's resurgence was perfect, because it allowed the Brewers to sell high. On July 23 they sent him to the Orioles for minor league third baseman Nicky Delmonico. Rodriguez turned back into a pumpkin in his return to the American League, posting a 4.50 ERA over 23 appearances.
Delmonico, meanwhile, just turned 21 in July and hit .232/.346/.423 over 82 games in 2013 between Brevard County and Frederick, the Orioles' high-A affiliate.
The Brewers took a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning on June 8 against the Phillies, but Brandon Kintzler allowed a pair of runs to trim the margin to a single tally. The Crew sent K-Rod in to walk that tightrope in the ninth and he pitched a perfect inning to ice the victory. Here's the final out:
A couple of weeks later Rodriguez also recorded career save #300. Here's that moment:
Rodriguez is a free agent this winter and the Orioles have made it clear they don't intend to bring him back. His 2013 contract was largely based on incentives and could have paid him over $2 million, down from the $8 million he made as a Brewer in 2013 and the $11.5 million he received in the final year of his multi-year deal in 2011.
Previous MVBrewers posts can be seen at the links below:
Lesser Brewers: Burke Badenhop