What should we make of Eduardo Rodriguez?


Most of the reaction you will find from Eduardo Rodriguez's latest outing will carry a pessimistic tilt. Fair.

Rodriguez now has four straight losses, having given up six runs in 4 2/3 innings in the Red Sox' 11-2 drubbing at the hands of the hosts in Houston. It also marked a second straight game in which he didn't go at least five innings after a streak of 36 straight starts of five-or-more frames.

Not good.

This is a results business, and for Rodriguez results haven't been good.

But anybody who watched this game against the Astros closely could come away with enough hints of optimism to alter the conversation.

Let's start with how his runs were score.

The two second-inning runs came on a hard-hit single from Carlos Correa (106 mph exit velocity), a bloop single just out of the reach of right-fielder Hunter Renfroe (85 mph) off the bat of Kyle Tucker, another soft single by Aledmys Dias (75 mph), and finally a sacrifice fly from Taylor Jones.

The next two runs came in the third on Jose Altuve's 330-foot homer that would have been out of two other ballparks. That hit -- clocking in with an exit velocity of just 92 mph -- was a result of being fooled by Rodriguez's changeup, with Altuve simply lunging out in front and reaching just enough.

The rest were a result of Colten Brewer not stranding the two runners left behind by Rodriguez with two outs in the fifth.

Again, a results business.

But the reality was that Rodriguez's velocity continues to trend up, which might be the most important part of the equation considering how it works hand in hand with his health. That cutter which Alex Cora had identified as a "sloppy slider" in recent days, was once again an actual much-needed weapon, and his demeanor was less of confusion (like last start) and more of determination.

They were sentiments echoed by his manager.

“I told him that if he throws the ball the way he threw it today, with one more adjustment, we’re in a good place," said Cora, later identifying the alteration as coming up with a more consistent changeup. "I honestly feel like stuff-wise, the cutter, that’s the one we were looking for. We still don’t have the sinker where we want it, but the four-seamer was good, there were some swings and misses, so as far as stuff compared to the last four or five, even early in the season, his fastball and his cutter were the best. I told him ... I do believe that if he throws the ball the way he threw it today, good things are going to start happening.”

The consensus will be of panic, disappointment or perhaps resignation. The year off. The myocarditis. The dead arm. It has left the Red Sox with a different pitcher.

After closely watching the guy who threw Monday afternoon, the guess here is that in a month that conversation will have changed quite a bit.

Until then, fire away. As we sit here, Rodriguez is the weak link of this rotation, sitting with a 5.64 ERA. But word to the wise ... file this one away.

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