Dodgers' Rodriguez seeking redemption in 2014
Lefty reliever posted 2.32 ERA in regular season before disappointing postseason
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez wants to prove himself.
After going 3-4 with a 2.32 ERA in 76 regular-season games in 2013, Rodriguez allowed six of eight batters to reach base in the National League Division Series against the Braves. As a result, the Dodgers left the southpaw off their NLCS roster, which they lost to the Cardinals in six games.
"For me it wasn't the best because I wasn't pitching so well, but just to experience it with the guys, learn from the guys and share that with them was great," said Rodriguez, who attended Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay's charity bowling event at Lucky Strike on Friday night.
Rodriguez, who pitched 54 1/3 innings in his first full big league season, tallied 88 1/3 over three levels of baseball in 2012.
The 22-year-old was selected by the Dodgers in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft having pitched 62 frames with the University of Florida Gators. He split time at Class A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga (19 2/3 combined innings) after signing.
Once he earned a September callup in 2012, Rodriguez made 11 appearances (6 2/3 innings) and posted a 1.35 ERA. During his first two seasons in Gainesville, he accumulated just 65 total frames.
That workload might have finally caught up with Rodriguez in 2013, when he struggled down the stretch.
Rodriguez surrendered three home runs in 6 1/3 September innings after giving up just two long balls through the first five months of the season. His 5.68 ERA in 12 outings followed 0.00 and 0.79 showings in July and August, respectively.
Prior to batters hitting .308 in 33 September plate appearances, opponents hit no better than .185 in any other month.
"Trying to stay strong through the whole year," Rodriguez said. "Last year, I thought I prepared well enough, but at the end I might have gotten a little tired and I didn't pitch as well as I wanted to. I felt like I had to work a little harder just to get to that point where I can last a whole season."
Of course, a bullpen's arms get much-needed relief when two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw takes the mound every fifth day.
Kershaw recorded three complete games and 24 starts of seven innings or more last season.
"We know we might have a day off that day," Rodriguez said. "We might have a break today. It's awesome."
Aside from finishing strong next season, Rodriguez hopes to slow down the run game. Baserunners have stolen nine bases in 11 attempts when he pitches.
Even with six other Dodgers relievers on Major League contracts, the southpaw is projected to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. He is not arbitration eligible until 2016.
"I feel like I have to go out and do the same thing I did last year," Rodriguez said. "Just work hard and try to win my spot. I have to prove myself again and show them that I'm ready to go for a whole season and be a part of the team as much as possible."
Christina DeNicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.