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K-Rod is Brewers’ only worthy all-star

June 24, 2015

Raise your hand if you had Francisco Rodriguez as the Milwaukee Brewers’ best player this season.

Anybody?

As surprising as the team’s complete and total collapse this year has been, the closer being their best player would have seemed nearly as unlikely just a few months ago. But it’s late June and K-Rod is almost a lock to be the Brewers’ lone representative at the all-star game.

Rodriguez tossed his 10th straight scoreless outing Wednesday night, a dominant stretch that dates back to May 31. Over those 10 outings, he has allowed just four hits and four walks with 13 strikeouts.

He hasn’t had many this season, but Rodriguez is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities. Over his last 22 games since April 23, the veteran closer has a 0.41 ERA, giving up just one run on 11 hits with 27 strikeouts.

For the season, Rodriguez has given up just three runs on 13 hits over 26 innings for a 1.00 ERA with 32 strikeouts against seven walks. He’s striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings, with a 0.778 WHIP that is well below his career 1.149 mark.

Rodriguez started similarly strong last season, but had already started to struggle by his 26th appearance, which came a month earlier than it did this year. Though he is used to and apparently prefers a heavier workload, limited work this season has not hindered Rodriguez.

Depending on your source, Rodriguez either ranks first or fourth on the team in WAR. Baseball Reference puts his total at a team-best 1.6, ahead of Adam Lind (1.4) and Ryan Braun (1.3). Fangraphs, which uses different pitching metrics in its formula, puts him at 0.8, behind Mike Fiers (1.3), Lind (1.3) and Braun (1.0).

Either way, K-Rod is well on his way to a second straight all-star appearance. The difference is, he likely won’t be joined by any teammates this year.

For just the third time since 2005, the Brewers should have just one all-star this summer. It’s also only the second time since 2007 the club will not have a starter in the all-star game.

It’s fitting, really, in an odd way. A team with only 26 wins in late June has little need for a closer. In fact, it might be the least valuable role on the 25-man roster.

But what Rodriguez has lacked in practical value, he’s more than made up for in on-the-mound dominance. He should go to Cincinnati and represent the Brewers at the midsummer classic.

Just a few weeks later, he should prove even more valuable to the club on the trade market.

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