An interesting observation from Troy Renck of the Denver Post regarding Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa. Seems De La Rosa was having some slight struggles since his return from Tommy John surgery. Then a revelation of sorts: De La Rosa watched some video of Philadelphia Phillies lefty ace Cliff Lee and now retired New York Yankee lefty hurler Andy Pettitte.
Renck states that De La Rosa observed how Lee and Pettitte pitched to opposing batters and how the pair was able to get batters out without possessing an overpowering fast ball. Since De La Rosa returned from Tommy John surgery – performed in June 2011 – De La Rosa has lost about 2-3mph off his fastball.
Here’s Renck with some insight from De La Rosa:
“I learned more from the hitters than ever before. That was the biggest key for me. I worked harder in trying to see what the hitters’ holes were and I tried to pitch for more contact. When I had that hard fastball (in the past), I didn’t think about anything.. just throw the ball…”
Pitching more to contact at Coors Field could seem like a mind-boggling decision. Knowing the reputation of his home park, the mental aspect would be something difficult to overcome.
But the studying of Lee and Pettitte, along with the commitment to pitching to contact, paid off for De La Rosa. 2013 was, in many facets, De La Rosa’s best season since breaking in with the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2004. For 2013, De La Rosa was 16-6 with an ERA of 3.49 and a WHIP of 1.384. He posted his best strand rate (75.4%) for his career, and considering he pitches in a decent number of games in hitter-friendly Coors Field, this is pretty darn impressive. Not to mention that 75.4 was 19th best in the entire NL.
If Colorado sees the same Jorge De La Rosa they saw in 2013, and teamed with the emerging Jhoulys Chacin and newly acquired Brett Anderson, the Rox may have themselves a darn solid top of the rotation.