By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
Eduardo Rodriguez arguably got the biggest out of Game 1 when he got Cody Bellinger to fly out with the tying run on second base in the seventh inning Tuesday night.
The Red Sox will need more of that in this series.
The Dodgers present a challenge the Red Sox did not encounter with the Astros and the Yankees: a lineup with dangerous left-handed power bats. That rendered the need for a left-handed option out of the bullpen mostly moot in the ALDS and ALCS.
That won’t be the case in the World Series, and Eduardo Rodriguez is the guy the Red Sox will have to turn to.
He’s all the Red Sox have, and Game 1 won’t be the only time they will need a big out from him.
Before Tuesday night, Rodriguez had been relegated to a long-relief role, and didn’t exactly instill much confidence in anyone with his few postseason appearances. Failing to cover first base and serving up a bomb to Gary Sanchez in Game 2 against the Yankees put Rodriguez in Alex Cora’s doghouse. Walking Houston’s Tony Kemp in a high-leverage situation in Game 4 of the ALCS only seemed to solidify Rodriguez’s status as an emergency option only.
But the Red Sox signaled their intention to use Rodriguez more in this series by making the surprise move to put Drew Pomeranz on the roster. Pomeranz essentially supplants Rodriguez as the team’s long-man, allowing Cora to use his talented but unproven lefty in situational matchups like he did against Bellinger in Game 1.
There’s a good chance he’ll see Bellinger again in this series. Rodriguez could also draw Max Muncy and Joc Pederson for a big out.
Rodriguez won’t be confused with Andrew Miller or Josh Hader, but the Red Sox aren’t asking for that. They need Rodriguez to be this year’s version of Felix Doubront, who got some of the biggest outs the bullpen had in the 2013 World Series.
The 2013 Cardinals struggled against left-handed pitching, the same way the 2018 Dodgers do. The Red Sox dipped into their regular season starting rotation to find a difference maker on the way to that World Series title. They’re hoping they can do the same five years later.
Rodriguez got the biggest out of his career in Game 1. The Red Sox will need a few more of those over the next few days.