The Orioles have some underperforming starters and, for whatever reason, they keep demoting possibly their best starter in the form of Kevin Gausman. There is room for improvement and, as the trade deadline approaches, a modest trade to attempt to upgrade the rotation may not be out of the question.
In the midst of Wednesday's forgettable loss to the Nationals, Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly unearthed one name the Orioles might be looking towards:
Jorge De La Rosa is a 33-year-old lefty starter who is in the last year of a four year, $42.5 million contract. He's started 18 games so far in 2014 and has been hit around to the tune of a 4.75 ERA. That's the kind of number that can make someone recoil in horror, as a Tolkien troll about to get caught in sunlight might do before turning to stone.
Before panicking too much, it's worth noting that "monitoring" is about as tepid of an indicator of interest as you are probably going to find. Teams are monitoring all sorts of players all of the time.
Why De La Rosa? One reason is probably that there is a prior connection with O's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. During his tenure with the Red Sox, Boston purchased de la Rosa's contract from a Mexican League team. That was over a decade ago, but it's something.
Statistically, while his numbers are repulsive, there is the fact that he's getting over 50% ground balls on the season, something that should play well with the Orioles infield. He's within a mile per hour of his velocity from his most successful season, averaging 92.6mph on the fastball this season, although according to Fangraphs, his fastball has never been his best pitch anyway. He throws the Dread Pitch Cutter as well, using it significantly for the first time this season.
Why not De La Rosa? The simple answer is that he's been bad this year, although he performed respectably last year (3.49 ERA, but only 167.2 innings in 30 starts). You might expect a Rockies pitcher to struggle at Coors Field and then do better on the road, but it's not the case for De La Rosa. He has a 3.73 ERA at home and a 5.87 ERA on the road.
Another problem with De La Rosa is his walk rate, with a BB/9 of nearly 4. The Orioles already have one former Rockie who walks everything in sight, thanks. He is even supposed to have his ground ball rate as a strength, too. Add to that the possibility that he's actually been lucky to perform at that level - his BABIP of .259 is over 40 points below his career number, meaning that he could start giving up even more hits - and there's plenty of reason to look at him and say, do not want.
What's more, unless the Rockies were to eat money in the deal, and if they did, they would demand a more significant return, the Orioles would be on the hook to pay De La Rosa the pro-rated portion of his $11 million salary this season.
Over a big league career that's spanned parts of 11 seasons and over a thousand innings, De La Rosa has a career ERA of 4.70. This year's performance is not an anomaly in terms of results when compared against the rest of his career.
Expensive, disappointing starter who only averages about 5.1 innings per start, who would cost the Orioles something in trade as well? Thanks, but no thanks. Shaky as parts of the rotation can be, this sounds like one time where it's better to stick with the devil you know, even if that devil is Ubaldo Jimenez.