By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Serious question: do you think the Orioles regret trading away Eduardo Rodriguez?
The O’s were obviously in need of a strong bullpen arm at the 2014 trade deadline, boasting a team with a legitimate chance to come out of the American League and trading with a Red Sox team that at the time was 48-60 and circling the drain for the season. The Orioles went on a 36-19 tear in August and September after adding Andrew Miller, who has since emerged as perhaps the most dominant reliever in baseball – but they ultimately flamed out when the Royals swept them in the American League Championship Series.
In the two seasons-and-change since, the Red Sox are 200-176 while the Orioles are 197-178. In 2017 so far, the teams have built quite the rivalry and sit within just 1.5 games of each other in the AL East.
But only the Red Sox still have a piece of the trade left – and the Orioles could sure use Rodriguez in their rotation right now.
After an up-and-down first three seasons in the majors, Rodriguez is enjoying what appears to be a breakout season at 24 years old. He’s 4-1 with 59 strikeouts in 55 innings and – believe it or not – is tied for the team lead in ERA with Chris Sale at 2.77. Both are tied for eighth in the AL in that category.
Crediting Chris Sale’s “aggressive” style for helping him take his game to another level, Rodriguez boiled his early success in 2017 down to being more confident in his pitch arsenal.
“I’m feeling more confidence in my pitches,” said Rodriguez, speaking to WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller on Thursday. “I’m able to command my pitches right where I want to and play with the corners with them.”
On paper, his overall performance against his former team in Baltimore isn’t overly impressive – he’s 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles. But 11 of the 16 earned runs he has allowed against the O’s came in two starts totaling eight innings, one of which was just the fourth start of his career.
In six other starts against his former team, Rodriguez is 3-1 with a minuscule 1.34 ERA.
Rodriguez has also dominated at Camden Yards, where the Red Sox have won his last four starts. He’s pitched the first four innings without allowing a hit in each of his last three starts in Baltimore, and the O’s have gone an incredible 5-for-54 (.093) in those games.
Meanwhile, the Orioles so far in 2017 have the second-worst starters’ ERA in the AL with 4.74. And that’s with former top prospect Dylan Bundy having a breakout year of his own with a 2.89 ERA.
In fairness to the O’s, they have a better postseason record (3-4) than the Red Sox (0-3) since the trade. Those three postseason wins would be nice for the Red Sox right about now. It’s also fair to note that Miller was a big factor for the Indians when they swept the Red Sox in the ALDS last season. But between Boston and Baltimore? It’s become pretty clear which team came out on top.
It’s beyond understandable that the Orioles would move a pitcher who at the time was an unproven prospect for a much-needed piece to make a deep playoff run. But in retrospect, with the Orioles now empty-handed and struggling to find rotation depth, it’s also fair to question what kind of value they were really getting back in 2014.
The Red Sox and Orioles have been relatively even since the trade went down, but in terms of starting pitching it’s not close. “E-Rod” has emerged as a solid mid-rotation starter for the Red Sox, with the upside to get even better.
So, to answer the question, yes, the Orioles regret trading away Rodriguez. If they don’t, they should. E-Rod has already won the trade for the Red Sox and has a chance to continue to make the Orioles regret the move.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.