A consensus top ten prospect in the sport entering the 2023 campaign, Rodriguez first received the call to the big leagues early this season but struggled badly across ten starts, with a 7.35 ERA and 5.93 FIP in 45 1/3 innings of work. That performance saw him optioned to the minors at the end of May. In seven starts since returning to Triple-A, Rodriguez has dominated to the tune of a 1.69 ERA with a fantastic 36.5% strikeout rate in 37 1/3 innings of work. That level of dominance indicates that Rodriguez has little else to gain from additional reps in the minors, making today’s news that Rodriguez will return to the big league rotation a natural next step.
If Rodriguez is able to live up to the promise of his Triple-A results and prospect pedigree at the major league level, it would be nothing short of transformative for the Orioles’ rotation. While strong performances in the lineup and bullpen have propelled the club to an excellent 56-35 record so far this season, a mediocre rotation has held the club back in their pursuit of the division-leading Rays for the AL East crown. Orioles starts rank just 18th in the majors in ERA and bottom five in the AL in terms of fWAR this season, with the likes of Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish, and Kyle Gibson offering performances closer to serviceable than dominant.
By calling up Rodriguez two weeks before the trade deadline on August 1, the Orioles will be able to see the 23-year-old hurler make multiple starts before trade season comes to an end. That’ll give the club valuable information about how much he can be relied on to make an impact for the club as Baltimore eyes a return to postseason play for the first time since 2016. The Orioles have long been expected to add to their rotation ahead of the coming trade deadline, but a dominant showing from the youngster could give the club’s front office additional confidence in pursuing a top-of-the-market option such as Marcus Stroman, Lucas Giolito or Jordan Montgomery to pair with Rodriguez at the front of the club’s rotation.
Rodriguez is already on the 40-man roster, but a corresponding move will nonetheless be required prior to tomorrow’s game in order to make room for the right-hander on the active roster. Connolly notes that left-hander Cole Irvin will move to the bullpen going forward to make room for Rodriguez in the club’s rotation. After being acquired from the A’s in an offseason trade, Irvin had a disastrous start to his Orioles career with a 10.66 ERA across his first three starts of the season. That led the club to demote him in early April, though in 25 innings of work in the big leagues since then he’s posted a far more palatable 2.88 ERA and 4.04 FIP. He figures to offer the Orioles a solid multi-inning option out of the bullpen going forward.