This is Part 40 of a series in which every member of the 2015 Dodgers has his season juxtaposed with an episode of the greatest sitcom of all-time. Don’t take it too seriously.
Paco Rodriguez, RP
Key stats: 2.61 ERA, three walks, eight strikeouts in 10 ⅓ innings in 18 games.
Seinfeld episode: “The Pothole” (Season 8, Episode 16)
Key quote: “Holy cow! Have a nice life.”
I have sympathy for Paco Rodriguez. He was told not to talk about his elbow, so he didn’t. When I asked him May 30 if he knew his velocity was dropping, he said he didn’t. The next day, he admitted that he was lying. He was very aware that he couldn’t hit 90 mph with his fastball anymore. The Dodgers’ coaches and/or executives — someone above him — was concerned so much that Rodriguez was told not to discuss his health with the media.
Now, this all makes sense. Rodriguez was headed down a familiar road, a road that’s never good. The day after our interview, the Dodgers placed Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow strain. He would never pitch again all year. What began as bone spurs and loose bodies ended up with a diagnosis of a torn medial collateral ligament. On Sept. 1, Rodriguez had Tommy John surgery on his left (pitching) elbow.
By then, Rodriguez was a member of the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers essentially threw him into a trade that included Hector Olivera and Chris Withrow and prospect Zach Bird in July, the package that allowed them to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Jose Peraza at the trade deadline.
It’s easy to forget that Rodriguez appeared in 18 games for the Dodgers in 2015. He was charged with 13 runners allowed and three earned runs. He performed well in some high-leverage situations and, other than being hurt toward the end, delivered on his potential of the first 2012 draft pick to reach the majors.
But ah, the elbow.
After making 78 appearances in 2013, Rodriguez made only only 37 appearances between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Maybe that workload, combined with his unorthodox delivery, was simply too much. Maybe there’s more to the equation. Regardless, Rodriguez was damaged goods by the time he was traded to the Braves.
In “The Pothole,” Jerry dates a woman whose toothbrush accidentally falls into her toilet. Jerry treats her as damaged goods from that point on — he won’t even kiss the woman. Couldn’t he have just thrown away the toothbrush after he retrieved it from the toilet? Would that have been so hard? I have sympathy for the woman in this episode.