by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There has been skepticism regarding Rubby De La Rosa since joining the Red Sox rotation, but he’s now made four starts and thus far has backed up the hype. Are there still some valid concerns? Absolutely, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not worth the risk. Let’s take a look at what he’s done thus far and try to figure it out.
The biggest question facing him was always going to be his control. Over his minor league career he owned a 4.3 BB/9, including a 4.8 at Triple-A. However, in his four starts in the Majors he’s at 2.49, having not walked more than 3 in any start. Prior to his recall he was at 3.88, including a 2.28 mark in April.
However, here’s how his May starts went:
- 5 BB in 5.0 IP
- 4 BB in 6.2 IP
- 4 BB in 3.0 IP
- 1 BB in 5.0 IP
- 2 BB in 6.0 IP
That was his only bad stretch this season which is promising, but it also does give us reason to have a little doubt. It’s something to continue monitoring, because who is to say that he isn’t going to lose his control again?
We all knew he had the potential to bring strikeouts to the table, currently with an 8.17 K/9 thanks to a fastball averaging 94.5 mph and a SwStr% of 11.2%. There is absolutely no reason to think that he can’t maintain this type of rate, especially with a minor league career mark of 9.0.
He also has been generating a significant number of groundballs, currently at 55.1%. While it’s not indicative of his previous ability, he was at 51.4% prior to being recalled so there is reason to believe. He is seemingly using his change-up more (35.6%), and that certainly is playing a role.
Outside of his control, the biggest issue may be where he fits in the Red Sox rotation once Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront return from the DL.
You know Jon Lester isn’t being moved, nor is John Lackey or Jake Peavy. Brandon Workman has made a strong case as well, but would the Red Sox move both veterans to the bullpen? The fact is you never know and, if De La Rosa keeps pitching like this, he’s going to force their hand.
It’s hard to find strikeouts on the waiver wire, but that’s something De La Rosa is displaying. When coupled with his control (which is a risk) and ability to generate groundballs, there is significant upside. While he’s not a must own, he’s all well worth the gamble.
I would consider De La Rosa over Ryan Vogelsong, Ubaldo Jimenez, Alfredo Simon
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Reference
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