The Many Faces of Henry Rodriguez
Update: As serendipity would have it, minutes after I posted this, I got the MASN text saying HRod went on the DL. Well, enjoy the article anyhow, and let's hope he's on the DL for a Bad Henry Amptuation.
...OK, fine, the title is a little misleading – there are only 2 faces of H-Rod, and thus far this season we've seen them both in full force. Of course, our favorite is Good Henry:
And of course, there's Bad Henry:
Note the bad guy mustache, a la Boris Badenov, of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame. All he's missing here is some sturdy rope to tie our damsels in distress – better known as the starting rotation with a win on the line – onto the train tracks that are the rest of the National League.
We are all familiar with Henry's stuff: triple digit fastball, hard biting slider, the stuff of legendary closers. However, ol' #63 is legendary alright, and for all of the wrong reasons; his wildness knows no boundaries, much to the chagrin of Nationals catchers, in particular Jesus Flores.
With this in mind, it befuddled many when manager Davey Johnson named H-Rod his fill-closer while Drew Storen recovered from elbow surgery. It didn't last long, as we now have super duper setup man Tyler Clippard 'sharing' duties with others in the 'pen, but it's been Clip that has seen the lion's share of the 9th with the game on the line.
While his repertoire is certainly tailor made for closing duties, his inability to, you know, know where his pitches are going, is not.
Yet, against all odds, (and backstops), Henry did a bang up job in the role for the most part, saving 9 games in 12 opportunities. Good Henry did, at least. But, as we all know, once bullpen coach Jim Lett opens the bullpen gate and unleashes Henry, we are never sure which one we're getting until the first pitch is uncorked.
Stats, please...and per usual, they come from Baseball Reference:
Well, overall in 2012, Henry has been pretty frickin' blergh. While his SO/9, and BABIP are impressive, and in line with his dominant stuff, the rest looks...eek. 9 wild pitches, 6 walks per 9 innings, and about a home run per 9 IP, are pretty terrible.
As we know, we have 2 Henrys. Let's see who's responsible for what as far as those stats gathered thus far in 2012, and also try to find out if Bad Henry shows up against any particular team.
First, let's look at some splits; how does H-Rod do in win/loss,save versus non-save situations:
Well, we can see right away that, overall, we get Good Henry in non-save situations, but also for saves; we really only have 2 instances where Bad Henry has stormed to the mound, and has made the brick backstop of Nationals Park his own personal target range. We mostly see Really Good Henry, or Really, REALLY Bad Henry. A portrait of extremes.
One item of interest is the wild pitch disparity; he has only thrown one in non-save situations. Adrenaline? Anxiety? Loss of faith in his pitches? Personal vendetta against his Venezuelan catching brethren? You decide.
In general, it seems to me that we experience a metamorphosis on the mound. We seem to always get Good Henry trotting to the mound, but for whatever reason -- confidence, game situation, trying to work through not having on of his pitches being 'on' for that outing – Bad Henry comes and takes over the reins.
So is it team specific? Are the jerseys the other guys on the field are wearing have a role in the split personality? Here, I will focus on NL East foes, and go from there:
Overall, we get super duper Good Henry against NL East foes: a 0.165 batting average, a 10+ SO/9, and a 2 BB/9 ratio is the average line for H-Rod against the NL East. Dominant. Aside from Shane Victorino, and Michael Bourn, no one puts good wood on Henry.
With this table, we are looking overall at the rest of the NL, and AL interleague play:
Aside from the NL West, no one, much like the NL East, gets good wood on those 101 MPH Henry fastballs. Granted, we are faced with the bias of small sample size, but overall, we can get a decent snapshot at which Henry we get any given outing. The less we use H-Rod against west coast rivals, the better.
Whether you agree or not with Davey Johnson's use of Rodriguez, we must be cognizant of the fact that he is a huge asset to the team, even more so once Storen, and Brad Lidge return from rehab stints. His place in the bullpen, along with the fantastic seasons thus far of Clippard, Sean Burnett, Craig Stammen, and gasp Tom Gorzelanny give the Nats bullpen the potential to be historically good, when it comes to racking up gaudy counting stats.
One question remains – will the real Henry Rodriguez please stand up?
Please, be Good Henry...