Tigers' K-Rod questions notion he's overusing change-up

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Francisco Rodriguez

Detroit — Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez understands that he’s new to Detroit. The fans, the media, people are trying to learn what he’s all about. 

Still, he couldn’t help being a tad miffed about the suggestion — bandied about in some media circles — that he might be overusing his vaunted change-up.

“How can you say I am overusing my change-up in an inning and a third?” he said. “Guys panic. I only have one game. When I throw it in spring training and I get scoreless innings, no one even mentions it. 

“Now, one outing and everybody says I am overusing.  Four outs. That’s it.”

According research done by STATS, and reported by MLB.com, 21 of the 31 pitches Rodriguez has thrown this season were change-ups. He gave up three runs in the season opener last Tuesday, but struck out Giancarlo Stanton with a curveball to earn the save Wednesday.

“He's a very intelligent pitcher who's done this for a long time and won't get rattled,” manager Brad Ausmus said on Friday. “Even when things weren't going his way the other night, you could tell he was confident in himself and that he felt like he was going to get out of it. 

“There's an aura about him of confidence that I think can be a little bit infectious to the defenders around him. Now, that being said, you have to go out and perform."

Rodriguez pointed out, too, that his change-up is actually three different pitches. He can manipulate the velocity and the movement to make it move in and out, and he can make it sink.

“I have different grips, different velocity, different location, different movement,” he said. 

Last season, again according to STATS, he threw his change-up 43 percent of the time, which was up from 29 percent in 2014. In those two seasons he posted the highest save percentage in baseball (92 percent). 

“Give me 10 outings, then I would let you think that (he’s overusing the change-up), he said. “Not an inning and a third.”

Twitter @cmccosky