Before the 2015 season started, the one major flaw of the Arizona Diamondbacks was the lack of depth and experience in the starting rotation. That flaw was exposed all season long as no pitcher recorded 200 innings and only one made more than 30 starts. That would be Rubby De La Rosa, acquired during the offseason in exchange for Wade Miley. This season was the first full campaign De La Rosa enjoyed in a Major League starting rotation. Let’s see how the right-hander fared in 2015.
He became the de facto ace after Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter was relegated to the bullpen after a number of poor outings. Though he topped out at 188 2/3 innings, De La Rosa did not miss a start, getting the ball a total of 32 times. He led the staff with 14 wins and 150 strikeouts and provided a dependable arm every fifth day. There were indeed flashes of brilliance; on two occasions De La Rosa pitched eight scoreless innings. He also hurled a complete game on May 18th in Miami, allowing two runs on six hits. The 26-year old De La Rosa went 3-4 with a 3.16 ERA in four starts against the San Francisco Giants.
Left-handed batters clobbered him to the tune of .316 batting average. Though he led the rotation in victories and strikeouts, he also had the highest ERA at 4.67. De La Rosa allowed 32 home runs which isn’t terrible if they were mostly solo shots. However, most of them came with runners on base, usually after an inexplicable walk and/or an ill-timed base hit. He was terrible over the final month of the season, giving up 31 hits and 13 walks in 27 1/3 innings, compiling a 5.93 ERA, a full two runs higher than in August. As good as he was against the Giants, he was that much worse against the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 11.21 ERA in four starts.
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The knock on Rubby was that he had issues going on in his head, as Zach Buchanan of azcentral writes about here. He can throw his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s with a decent curve. However, it doesn’t appear as though he can command a third pitch. In order for him to be an effective Major League starting pitcher, De La Rosa needs to work on another quality offering. If what is holding him back is concentration or lack of a third pitch, then maybe the rotation isn’t the spot for him. I believe he will get another chance as a starter and hopefully, he will look at 2015 as a learning experience on how to handle the grind of a starting pitcher during a long season.