The Mets’ new management regime has already committed to using Francisco Rodriguez at closer next season, but that doesn’t mean the right-hander can put the events of August 11 behind him. At least, not yet.
According to the New York Daily News, Rodriguez will plead guilty Friday in a New York court to an assault charge against his girlfriend’s father. It’s part of a plea deal that will keep him out of jail and require him to attend anger management courses instead.
Rodriguez, 28, was actually quite effective on the mound this past season, posting a 2.20 ERA and 1.15 wHIP over 57.1 innings while saving 25 games in 30 chances.
He underwent surgery on his thumb this fall to repair an injury that he suffered during the August assault. But he’s already begun a throwing program and is fully expected to be ready by the start of spring training.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.