It’s not like after a week into spring training that I have to get all schoolgirl giddy over what a steal Rubby De La Rosa may turn out to be but, well, I’m giddy at what a steal Rubby De La Rosa may turn out to be.
OK, so he’s pitched two innings so far and while he tossed nothing but goose eggs over those two frames it’s not the stats that have me stoked. It’s the radar gun pop that Captain Tommy John is putting out there. De La Rosa has been clocked on the gun twice at 100 mph. That’s some serious cheese kids, especially in spring training. The Red Sox haven’t seen that since the early and mid 2000s when Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard combined to mow down and saw in half opponents’ bats.
In the age of ever-more refined elbow surgery, recovery from Tommy John means not if you can come back but how well you come back. Advances in surgical techniques and post-operative physical therapy are not only getting pitchers back in the game but truly turning them into $6 million men. At $482,000, De La Rosa could prove to be Magic Johnson’s Waterloo and Boston’s steal. When combined with 23-year old Allen Webster, you’ve got the potential for a bona fide Dodger twin killing.
Webster spanked the radar gun at 98 mph in his first Grapefruit League outing. Think about Webster as a harder throwing Derek Lowe. When he’s on he’s got a killer sinker. With that much speed behind it the sinker is sure to deaden many a bat and induce limp ground ball outs.
It took one Google search for me to find out if my theory was right. My top hit was an SI.com article featuring, guess who, both De La Rosa and Webster. De La Rosa’s minor league coach was quoted in an interview with WEEI’s Alex Speier. “Just kind of imagine Derek Lowe with sharper, harder and gnarlier secondaries… The sink is insane,” said Chuck Crim. “Granted, Derek could control that sink and start it and end it where he wanted to. That takes years of experience with that type of a pitch. But there’s not too many, if you look at hard sinker guys, there’s not too many to compare it to. Normally guys don’t throw sinkers with that kind of movement that hard…”
That’s a ringing endorsement that I can live with and hopefully one that proves Ben Cherington has been making all the right moves.
Fire! I’ll take you to burn
Fire! I’m gonna take you to learn
I’ll see you burn
- Fire, Pete Townshend