Jorge de la Rosa is a journeyman in every sense of the word. By the time de la Rosa could legally drink he was already in his third organization and second professional baseball league. In 2003 he would be part of the package Boston sent to Arizona in order to acquire Curt Schilling. Days later he would be used to acquire Richie Sexson. A few mediocre seasons with Milwaukee and Kansas City passed and Colorado would acquire de la Rosa prior to the 2008 season in a conditional deal.
Naturally de la Rosa started 23 games for the Rockies last year and posted a 4.21 xFIP. He topped those totals this year with a 3.81 xFIP in 185 innings. Unexpected results are sometimes the best, and for a guy with a previous career best xFIP just over 4.7, these two seasons came unpredicted and left unheralded.
Once dubbed the “Mexican John Rocker”1 by Dan Duquette, de la Rosa is a lefty with a fastball that sits 92-94 and wildly effective secondary pitches. His slider and change-up each generated more than 20% whiffs while his curve fell just shy of 13%. Batters made contact on a more consistent basis with de la Rosa’s fastball which makes his other pitches a saving grace.
Outside of the sudden breakout, why is de la Rosa the least bit interesting? Because tRA and FIP have contrasting views on just how good of a pitcher he is. Part of this conflict has to do with an unadjusted home run rates – playing in Coors has that type of effect – but de la Rosa also has perennially high line drive rates against. He also seems to have some slight issues stranding runners. Whether this is the result of scorer error or actual line drives being hit is beyond me, but for now I’ll assume the truth is somewhere in between.
1This was intended to be a compliment, although nowadays it wouldn’t be.
xFIP data from The Hardball Times
As an aside, I would like to bid Sky Kalkman farewell from Beyond the Boxscore. Sky is one of the kindest and smartest writers in the baseball community, but his Life% has surpassed his time to spend writing on baseball. Not that BTB is in poor hands now either. Tommy Bennett — one of the brightest new writers to buoy to the surface this season — is now running it. Best of luck to both of those gentlemen.