The #2 ranked pitching prospect in all of baseball debuted last week and immediately allowed two hits, a walk and two runs… in the first inning. Most would’ve folded at that point! Not Grayson Rodriguez. He settled in and completed 4 scoreless innings from there, striking out 5.
That game was on the road in Texas vs. Jacob friggin’ DeGrom by the way — arguably the best pitcher of our generation. Imagine how stressful that must’ve been. I view tonight as a 180 degree twist in a favorable light. He gets an easier opponent in the comfort of Camden Yards for his home debut.
Sure, he might still feel pressure, but have you seen these Oakland Athletics play? They’re striking out 27.1% of the time vs. Righties (2nd most) and hitting 0.195 (3rd worst) with 0.260 OBP (2nd worst). To be fair, one of the RHP they faced was Ohtani (10 K’s); however, even if we exclude that game, they still rank bottom-4 in strikeout rate (25.9%).
The Major Leagues are a different beast, but I like how Rodriguez consistently posted above average strikeout rates in the Minors.
He’s well regarded for strikeout ability in scouting reports, too. Looking at his pitch mix reveals a simple yet lethal fastball/slider/changeup combo that can make even the best bats swing and miss. 50% of the time Texas tried to hit his slider last week… they completely missed. The 4-seam fastball was equally impressive, drawing a 36.4% whiff rate on 96.5 MPH average velocity. 4-seamers, by definition, don’t have much movement, yet statcast detected 9.6 inches of horizontal break in Rodriguez’ 4SFB… +30% vs. league average. This helps explain his ability to generate swings and misses.
Last but not least, I like how he pounded the zone with 1st pitch strikes 60% of the time. If he keeps that up, it’s a recipe for success tonight. Only 10 teams are taking the 1st pitch more often than Oakland this season (28.2% 1st pitch swing rate).
In closing, for my best bets… I’m rolling with 2!
Grayson Rodriguez (BAL):
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