News broke over the weekend that Rubby De la Rosa would keep his spot in the starting rotation. De la Rosa went 14-9 last year, leading the team in wins despite a high 4.67 ERA, 4.81 FIP and 87 ERA+.
Leaving De la Rosa in the starting rotation is probably the right move. At 27, De la Rosa still has potential to improve on what have been lackluster career statistics. His average fastball velocity of 94 mph indicates he can throw as hard as anyone else in the game.
There was a point in time not long ago where many experts viewed De la Rosa as a potential star in the making. He had a 3.71 ERA in 13 games for the Dodgers in 2011, averaging 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He was also a key prospect sent to the Red Sox in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. But he has failed to find any sort of statistical consistency since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, going 18-19 with a 4.67 ERA since then. This has made him somewhat of an enigmatic player.
De la Rosa is by no means a lost cause, and getting back to that 2011 production is not entirely unfeasable. Jacob deGrom didn’t even make his MLB debut until he was a month shy of 26. And last season was De la Rosa’s first true full season as a starting pitcher in the majors. There is still plenty– or at least some– hope on this front. The best case scenario here is that the Diamondbacks get another sub-4.00-ERA starter to compliment Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin.
But he is running out of opportunities at 27, and the Diamondbacks should keep him on a short leash. If he falters, the team should not hesitate to give a prospect like Archie Bradley or Tyler Wagner a chance in the rotation.
As it stands now, the Diamondbacks’ rotation consists of Greinke, Miller, Corbin and De la Rosa.