There was a time major league teams hoped to get complete games from their starting pitchers. That era is long gone.

While some pitchers still go seven or more innings with regularity (Chris Sale considers anything less than a nine-inning effort a disappointing day of work), six innings is the new standard for a big league starter. Bullpens are loaded with hard-throwing relievers who can nail the final three innings of work down easily.

For Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, six-inning nights have been elusive. Not that he hasn’t been successful: Rodriguez is 9-1 after a 9-3 win in Seattle on Sunday. Yet the bullpen has had to handle longer workloads than expected. Rodriguez has lasted six innings in fewer than half of his starts this season.

Watching Rodriguez pitch can cause mixed emotions for Red Sox fans. You love the outcome, but it’s frustrating to watch him nibble on the corners as his pitch count escalates. He has good stuff, but he doesn’t seem to trust it. He’s heard it from us, he’s heard it from Manager Alex Cora, he’s heard it from pitching coach Dana LeVangie.

It’s OK to pitch to contact. You don’t need to strike everyone out.

That’s why Sunday afternoon’s effort from Rodriguez was so enjoyable. The Sox won another one of his starts, and Rodriguez pitched a full six innings for the first time in three starts, and just the sixth time this year. He worked quickly on the mound, speeding up his tempo and attacking the strike zone. Seventy of his 113 pitches were strikes. He struck out nine and lowered his ERA to 3.59.

“I just go and try to get quick,” said Rodriguez. “I was throwing strikes. I get the ball back and try to throw another one and another one. It was working pretty good. I’m going to try to start doing that more every game”

Everyone would love it if he did. After the game, his teammates talked about how deep into the game he worked and how his quicker tempo kept them on their toes.

His manager was straightforward afterward.

“I think he was a lot more aggressive in the strike zone,” said Cora, who went on to joke how everyone enjoys his quick tempo.

Rodriguez has been through a lot for a young pitcher. He’s only 25, but he’s already dealt with a very public case of tipping his pitches. This year he was recovering from offseason knee surgery, finally putting a stop to knee pain that has bothered him for years. He has built confidence in that knee as the season has progressed, and the results are impressive. His ERA this season is the lowest of his career, as are his 1.24 WHIP and 10.43 strikeouts per nine innings.

All the numbers add up to a pitcher who might be in the conversation for the All-Star Game next month. It’s the realization of the promise he has shown since the Sox acquired him from Baltimore for Andrew Miller in 2014.

Of all those numbers, the most impressive is what the Red Sox have done with Rodriguez on the mound this season.

“I just go out there and try to put the team in position to win the game,” Rodriguez told reporters after Sunday’s game.

Indeed. The Sox have been in a very good position when Rodriguez takes the mound. They’ve won 13 of his 14 starts. The next step will be for him to go six or more innings with regularity. No one expects him to go nine, but the Sox would love to look at his starts as a light work day for the bullpen.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.