PHOENIX — Seen as someone who would fit more as a spot starter and a long relief man, San Francisco Giants pitcher Dereck Rodriguez continues to prove that he is the team’s ace for 2018 – even with the massive veteran presence in the starting rotation.
Rodriguez, the son of Hall-of-Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, threw 6.1 scoreless innings while Brandon Crawford, Andrew McCutchen and Jone Panik all hit home runs as the Giants dispatched of the NL West Division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks 7-0 at Chase Field on Saturday night.
Going into this season, San Francisco’s strength was supposed to be its starting rotation, and, at the moment, it’s playing out that way – even if those expected to be the main reason for that status have not been holding up their end.
Tested ace Madison Bumgarner started the season on the disabled list with a fractured finger and has yet to make his 2018 season debut (projected to start on June 5 at home against Arizona). As of right now, both Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are on the disabled list, though their returns are imminent.
In stepped Rodriguez, and he has been a godsend since making his first start on June 3 after a few appearances out of the bullpen. Since that start, he has given up just six runs in 25 innings, with a couple of wins and two no-decisions.
Rodriguez might be squeezed out of the rotation with the return of San Francisco’s “big three” on the mound, but he is not making that decision easy with the way he’s throwing the ball.
“I don’t think about that,” said Rodriguez about the impending decision the Giants will be forced to make on their rotation. “Just go out there and do what I know how to do best, and that’s pitch good games. Whatever happens happens. I’m just enjoying myself right now. Whatever they decide, that’s their decision.”
San Francisco has gone 9-2 in its last 11 games, and Rodriguez and fellow rookie Andrew Suarez, who won last night’s game 2-1 against the D-backs, have been the driving force in the Giants’ return to relevance in the NL West in 2018.
“I can’t tell you what we are going to do,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “We’ll answer that when we have to. Jsut proud of these kids, the way they are pitching. Come into [Chase Field] and throw the ball like that, that’s impressive.”