Yariel Rodriguez will begin season in Triple-A Buffalo, could join Blue Jays after making a few starts

Photo credit:© Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The puzzle that is the Blue Jays’ Opening Day pitching staff is becoming more clear.
On Tuesday afternoon, Francys Romero reported that Blue Jays pitcher Yariel Rodríguez will not be on the team’s roster when they break camp and head to Tampa Bay but will instead make two or three starts in Triple-A Buffalo.
Rodríguez was Toronto’s big signing this past off-season, as he signed a five-year, $32 million contract. However, Rodríguez could make up to $47.5 million as a starter and $37.5 million as a reliever, according to this Associated Press article featured on Sportsnet.
Prior to this season’s Spring Training, Rodríguez hadn’t pitched since the 2023 World Baseball Classic where he had a 2.45 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched, along with 10 walks and six strikeouts. Prior to that, Rodríguez pitched three seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball where he had a 3.03 ERA in 175.1 innings pitched, along with a 25.4 K% and a 10.4 BB%. His last season in Japan saw him post a 1.48 ERA in 54.2 innings pitched.
The 27-year-old made his long-awaited debut towards the end of Spring Training as he was dealing with back spasms. On March 17, Rodríguez finished with a line of 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K for a 4.50 ERA. In his following start, he finished with a line of 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Overall, Rodríguez finished Spring Training with 1.80 ERA and a 6.94 FIP in 5 innings pitched, with an even 16.7 BB% and K%.
According to Baseball Savant data from that first game against the Minnesota Twins, Rodríguez’s fastball averaged 94.3 mph, maxing out at 96.5 mph. Moreover, he had a 25 whiff percentage in that game, with the fastball generating one swing and miss on four total swings, the slider generating one whiff on five total swings, and the splitter generating a swing and miss on the only swing he got.
Unfortunately, there was no Savant data from his second start, but maxing out a tick over 96 mph isn’t such a bad building block for a pitcher who plans on being a starter.
It’ll be interesting to see how long Rodríguez is in Triple-A, as the Blue Jays pitching staff is going through some things. Their closer and setup man will both likely start the season on the Injured List. Also, Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman only had one start each in Spring Training, so the rotation has some question marks heading into their first game of the season on Thursday.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.


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