Baltimore Orioles: Time to snap up Jorge De La Rosa?
Veteran left-hander Jorge De La Rosa is still looking for a home. Should the Baltimore Orioles be that new home for the 2017 season?
The news that Chris Tillman will miss Opening Day and could start the season on the disabled list rocked the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday afternoon. With discomfort in his shoulder lingering, the leader of the staff is proceeding with caution after a platelet-rich plasma injection.
He could begin throwing again in a few weeks, putting him on track to start the fifth game of the year. Or, he could deal with shoulder soreness, declining velocity, and a few trips to the disabled list all year long. No one really knows right now, and shoulder injuries come with much more uncertainty that injuries to any other part of the arm for pitchers.
Tillman missing a significant time this season is a major cause for concern for the Orioles. Trading Yovani Gallardo for a useful outfielder was a great move, but it left the Orioles with little to no depth to step up if one of the five starters went down. Pitchers and catchers have been in camp for less than a week, and it’s already time to start worrying about potential starts for Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, or Joe Gunkel. Not good.
There isn’t much left on the open market in terms of starters who could be expected to step into the rotation for a playoff contender and deliver useful innings. Jason Hammel and Travis Wood both signed with the Kansas City Royals. One of the last names left floating around is Jorge De La Rosa, and he should intrigue the Orioles for a number of reasons.
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De La Rosa is coming off a nine-year run with the Colorado Rockies where he went 86-61 with a 4.35 ERA. His best year came in 2013, when he went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA. From 2013 to 2015, De La Rosa went 39-24 with a 3.92 ERA for the Rockies, solid numbers indeed. The left-hander did experience a somewhat significant decline last year, going 8-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 27 games while allowing 1.5 HR/9 and walking 4.2 per nine. He is entering his age-36 season, so it’s not a stretch that he is unsigned as camps around the league open for business.
It’s fairly obvious to see why all 30 teams aren’t falling over themselves to sign De La Rosa to a guaranteed MLB deal. He is an aging soft-tosser who pitches to contact and does not get many outs on the ground. His home-run rate was through the roof in 2016, and opponents slugged .591 against his fastball and .670 against his cutter. The splitter is the only pitch left in his arsenal that can be viewed as an above-average offering as he rarely throws his curveball.
None of this really points to De La Rosa being a great fit in the homer-happy AL East, but the Orioles are at the “what have we got to lose” point of Spring Training where non-guaranteed invites to camp can still be handed out like candy.
If De La Rosa had an offer that would guarantee him a spot on a major-league roster, he would have already signed on the dotted line. He must still weigh his options, but a minors deal seems the best route for him at this point.
Baltimore could be an ideal landing spot for the veteran southpaw, as it is one of the few places around the league that could offer him a fair amount of innings. The Orioles have a need for depth in their rotation, but could also use another left-hander for the bullpen.
For his career, De La Rosa has held lefties to a .233/.312/.344 line with a solid 2.41 SO/BB ratio. He profiles as a late-career pitcher who could be very effective out of the bullpen as a specialist with his splitter. This veteran pitcher and the Orioles should fit very well together.
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It wouldn’t be a deal to jump up and down about, but it would help the O’s to tread water and keep themselves afloat while dealing with Tillman’s injury.