Rubby De La Rosa Returns To Majors, But Is He Fantasy Relevant?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With both Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront injured, Rubby De La Rosa will get a shot at returning to the Majors tomorrow. He last started for the Dodgers back 2011, though he appeared out of the bullpen with them in 2012 and the Red Sox in 2013. Always known as a hard thrower with control issues, should he be on fantasy radars?

Over the course of his minor league career he owns a 9.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. While he has maintained the strikeout rate this season, with an 8.78 K/9, he has also reduced the walks a little bit to 3.88. While the strikeouts are encouraging, can we really say he has taken a step forward in his control? Just look at his split by month:

  • April – 2.28 (27.2 IP)
  • May – 5.61 (25.2 IP)

He has improved over his past two starts (3 BB in 11.0 IP), but from April 27 through May 13 (4 starts) he walked 16 batters over 19.2 innings. It’s that type of inconsistency that makes him difficult to trust. If we could count on him to be in the 3.50-3.75 walk range, it could be enough. However, there’s the chance of him walking 5-6 batters in any given start and that obviously could spell disaster.

De La Rosa has increased his groundball rate this season, currently sitting at 51.4% (46.8% in the minors since 2011 and 47.3% in the Majors). While that too would help him excel, like with his control there is a dramatic split in the numbers:

  • April – 61.4%
  • May – 41.9%

We are obviously dealing with small sample sizes, which helps to explain the significant variance. Still, it’s hard to start proclaiming that he’s figured it out, just because he owns a 2.87 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. The strikeout stuff is certainly attractive, and we also can’t say that he’s benefited from tremendous luck this season (.294 BABIP).

However, we can say that the control is spotty, at best. We also can say that the groundball rate is hardly something to trust. How about the fact that he has not allowed a home run yet in 2014?

If you are in need of strikeouts there is reason to grab De La Rosa. The Red Sox have a hole and he can certainly help in the category. However, he also could easily blow up your WHIP and struggle in the Majors. At this point he’s best left for those in the deepest of formats.

Waiver Wire Guideline:
10 Team Leagues – No way
12 Team Teagues – Monitor off waivers for now
14+ Team Leagues – Could be considered, but only if you need Ks
AL-Only – Worth the gamble
Keeper Leagues – Really depends on rules

Sources – MILB.com, Minor League Central, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs

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