Jul 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher J. De La Rosa (29) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Well, for one, De La Rosa is changing the way he throws to hitters.
He’s throwing fewer straight fastballs than he ever has before, just 33.8% of the time choosing to throw his heater. And that heat is slower, too; it’s a full half a mile an hour slower (91.9 mph) on average than his career fastball velocity (92.4 mph).
A half of a mile an hour may not sound significant, but dropping the fastball to throw the cutter and changeup are noteworthy, and De La Rosa has coupled his lesser reliance on fastballs with a greater reliance on stuff that moves.
After developing a cutter for the first time in 2014, and throwing the 87.7 mph pitch about 22% of the time that year, in 2015 De La Rosa is tossing his 87.5 mph cutter 26.2% of the time — effectively replacing a lot of the straight fastballs he had been using earlier in his career with a slower pitch that’s moving more.
Additionally, De La Rosa is throwing his changeup more in 2015 than he ever has in a full season before, opting to go with it 34.7% of the time. Think about that — one of every three pitches De La Rosa throws is a changeup.
The slider, which De La Rosa used to use 10-16% of the time in his early Denver days, has been dropped completely (well, to be fair, he’s thrown it 0.5% of the time this year).
The curveball, too, which was once a much larger part of De La Rosa’s arsenal, is now used less than 5% of the time.
As I touched on above, all this has gotten De La Rosa a career-high K/9 rate and an offering of pitches that are more difficult for hitters to square up with lower contact rates. Look past just ERA — and don’t forget the injury he dealt with at the start of the year — De La Rosa’s adjustments seem to be working.
What does it all mean for his future, though?
Next: What It All Means For The Rockies