It took the Milwaukee Brewers and closer Francisco Rodriguez till February 2015 to reach an agreement after a great season with the Brewers in 2014. Rodriguez had been with the Brewers up until the 2013 season after the team traded for Rodriguez during their postseason run in 2011. His role has changed during his two tenures with the Brewers, and he is back to the K-Rod we saw in Los Angeles and sometimes in New York.
In his first three years with the Brewers, Rodriguez severed as a set-up man in the 8th inning, saving just games 13 and holding the lead in 50 of them. That has cut into Rodriguez’s save chances, which no closer really seems to ever like. Rodriguez was okay with setting up in Milwaukee, signing a one-year deal with the team prior to the 2014 season.
Now, about the setting up for the closer thing that Rodriguez had been doing for the Brewers, that stopped in 2014 right away on opening day. Most people thought that the Brewers manager at the time in Ron Roenicke would have Jim Henderson, who saved 28 games and 32 saves for the Brewers during the 2013 season. Roenicke instead decided to go with Rodriguez that day, and ever since that decision was made, Rodriguez has sprung his career back into action.
That move was genius by Roenicke, as Rodriguez went onto save 44 of the 49 games that year with a 3.04 earned run average and 73 strikeouts. This was a great move not only for the Brewers, as it helped get Francisco Rodriguez back on the map for teams that needed a closer like him. Last off-season, the Miami Marlins offered Rodriguez more money on his contract that would be two-years then the Milwaukee Brewers. He ultimately chose to stay with the Brewers, for likely putting him back on the map. He also felt more comfortable with the team.
K-Rod was still able to get the two-year contract he wanted with the Brewers, giving him $13 million over those two years while attaching a team option to his contract for the year 2017. Rodriguez has sure exceeded the Brewers expectations this year.
Rodriguez is a perfect 30-for-30 on save chances this year, with a 2.06 earned run average and 51 strikeouts. Rodriguez also has 35 saves in a row dating back to the 2014 season, which puts him 14 behind John Axford for the longest saves streak in Brewers history. Axford was the Brewers main closer during K-Rod’s first tenure with the team, but was traded away before Rodriguez’s last year with the team in his first tenure due to not being able to match the consistency from the year before.
With his save today versus the Miami Marlins in the Brewers 8-7 win, Rodriguez moved up to 7th all-time on the saves list, passing Joe Nathan. Rodriguez is projected to save 10 more games this season, giving him 388 on his career, putting him two within Dennis Eckersley.
Here is a look at the current all-time saves list (up until Rodriguez and Nathan):
1: Mariano Rivera (652)
2: Trevor Hoffman (601)
3: Lee Smith (487)
4: John Franco (424)
5: Billy Wagner (422)
6: Dennis Eckersley (390)
7: Francisco Rodriguez (388)
8: Joe Nathan (387)
- Bold indicates active player
There is a huge drop off in saves once you get past Rivera and Hoffman. If Rodriguez meets the project of 40 saves, over the next few years, here are the totals he will end up reaching.
2016: 428 (4th all-time)
2017: 468 (4th all-time)
2018: 508 (3rd all-time)
2019: 548 (3rd all-time)
2020: 588 (3rd all-time)
2021: 628 (2nd all-time)
2022: 668 (1st all-time)
That means K-Rod would reach the all-time saves record in 2022 at age 40, which would be his 20th season in baseball. That would be one more season more than Mariano Rivera, and it is very likely that Rodriguez won’t stay at the pace of 40, and there will be some drop off regardless on how much it seems unlikely. There could also be one season with 45 plus saves, as Rivera saved 44 saves in his final year in 2013.
Regardless if he breaks the save record or not, Rodriguez has returned to being one of baseball’s best at nailing down saves.
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