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Steven Wright likely to make a start; no more starts for Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman 09.21.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

BALTIMORE — The open audition for spots in the 2015 Red Sox rotation are wrapping up, with two pitchers having concluded their late-2014 cases and one more being a chance to make his.

John Farrell outlined the rotation for the final week of the season, which will feature Anthony Ranaudo, Clay Buchholz and Allen Webster pitching against the Rays, followed by the possibility of knuckleballer Steven Wright on Friday against the Yankees, with Joe Kelly and Buchholz logging the final two games of the year. Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman will be available in the bullpen for the final week of the season, while Wright would be making his first start of 2014 and his second in the big leagues.

At one point, it appeared that De La Rosa had secured a spot in the Red Sox’ rotation for 2015, but his seven-start stumble to the finish line (7.16 ERA with an opponents’ line of .355/.405/.514) has raised some questions about whether his future is in the rotation or bullpen. When he pitches down in the strike zone, he shows the ability to compete as a starter, but the 25-year-old ended up having an increasingly difficult time doing that as the year progressed, with his nine-hit, six-run, four-inning effort against the Orioles having featured the right-hander pitching up in the strike zone, and getting hit hard, with his fastball. He still tops out in the mid- and high-90s, but the Sox have seen his average velocity tailing off at a time when he’s now up to a career-high 160 innings, up roughly 45 percent from his prior career peak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Chris Tillman 09.20.14 at 5:58 pm ET
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The Red Sox will play the second game of their three-game series against the Orioles on Saturday night, as Rubby De La Rosa will face off against Chris Tillman.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

De La Rosa’€™s last two starts have not gone exactly as planned. Against the Royals last Saturday, the right-hander (4-7, 4.31 ERA) was charged for two runs in the first inning and then allowed three more in the fifth. De La Rosa’€™s final four-inning line included six hits and two strikeouts.

Manager John Farrell said after De La Rosa’€™s last start that the team plans on restricting the pitcher’€™s innings because of the amount he’€™s pitched in both the major and minor leagues this season.

“We are limiting his innings pitched, but we don’t want to shut him down,” Farrell said. “There’s some benefit to be had by continuing through his work routine through the end of the season, and that’s a primary goal right now.”

His start vs. the Blue Jays on Sept. 7 was almost identical to his one against Kansas City. De La Rosa lasted four innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. The big blow in the game came when Jose Bautista hit a three-run home in the fifth inning, ending Dela Rosa’€™s afternoon.

Since the second half of the season began, De La Rosa has struggled to have any consistency. In 11 starts since the All-Star break, he has an ERA over five and a 2-5 record. Hitters have feasted on him with a .325 batting average. By the time De La Rosa reaches the 26-pitch mark in a game, players are hitting .340 with a .894 OPS against him.

De La Rosa made one start vs. the Orioles back on June 11. He was roughed up for three runs in the first inning, but recovered to pitch 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs.

“I thought tonight was an important learning experience for him, the way in which he needs to use his fastball,” Farrell said after the game. “Quickly the word spreads around this league on what an individual pitcher will go to. I thought once he started to use his fastball more from the third inning on, he forced some swings and made his changeup and his breaking pitches that much more effective.”

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Jeremy Guthrie 09.13.14 at 8:43 am ET
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The Red Sox will play the third game of their four-game set with the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. Rubby De La Rosa will get the ball and pitch against Kansas City’€™s Jeremy Guthrie.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

De La Rosa (4-6, 4.01 ERA) had trouble last Sunday commanding his pitches against the Blue Jays. As the Red Sox attempted to earn a home sweep over their division rivals, De La Rosa weaved in and out of jams in the third and fourth innings.

In the fifth inning, however, De La Rosa couldn’€™t escape trouble, as Toronto slugger Jose Bautista crushed a three-run home run over the Green Monster and on to Lansdowne Street. De La Rosa’€™s day was finished after he gave up the three runs and seven hits in four-plus innings.

De La Rosa said after the game that the 2-0 pitch to Bautista that landed near the MassPike was part of his command problems.

“Yeah, I missed that pitch,” De La Rosa said of the home run. “I tried to throw it away.”

Prior to his start against Toronto, the right-hander threw 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball on the road against the Rays, but he did not factor in the decision. De La Rosa’€™s month of August was an improvement after an abysmal July when he had an ERA close to six. Though he had a higher 1.76 WHIP, his ERA for August was 4.13.

He’€™s pitched well at Fenway Park this season, but De La Rosa has not had as much success on the road in 2014. His ERA is more than a run higher — 4.57 on the road compared to 3.47 at home — and his batting average against is .294 away from the confines of Fenway.

One of De La Rosa’€™ best starts this season came against Kansas City in late July. In seven innings, he allowed one run and five hits over seven solid innings. He walked four batters, but he worked around the major jams.

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Rubby De La Rosa is on the (innings) clock 09.06.14 at 7:53 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

Prior to 2014, Rubby De La Rosa had never thrown more than 110 1/3 innings in a season. In 2013, his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, he totaled 91 2/3 frames. And so, entering the year, the Red Sox felt that he was in line for about 140-150 innings as an appropriate goal for the 25-year-old.

On Sunday, De La Rosa seems all but certain to exceed that mark. He’s already accumulated 148 innings (88 in the big leagues and 60 in Triple-A), and as he prepares for his 28th start, he’s navigated not only into uncharted territory but beyond where the Red Sox expected him to be.

And so, the Sox will manage the pitcher’s workload going forward, even as they keep him on a regular turn in their current six-man alignment in order to give De La Rosa the experience of spending a full year in the rotation through the end of September, something he’s never before experienced as a professional.

“We would cut back the innings inside a given start because we want to keep the five day rotation or routine going through the end. … We have a threshold in mind.  As we cut him fairly short last time out, even though I thought he was throwing the ball really well, we’€™re probably going to be a little bit shorter,” said manager John Farrell. “We’€™re not just going to let him go unrestricted or 100-plus pitches. There’€™s a limit in mind that’€™s a little bit shorter than a normal regular season. We’€™ve got a number in mind that is out there as far as total number of innings pitched this year.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts bats leadoff in series finale vs. Rays 09.01.14 at 10:44 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts continues his climb up the Red Sox batting order, as the rookie will bat leadoff in the finale of a four-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday afternoon.

Betts batted seventh in the first two games, then was in the No. 2 slot behind Brock Holt on Sunday, when he collected a double and an RBI single in a 3-0 victory. He’s 4-for-11 with five RBIs in the series and now is batting .259/.344/.424 on the season (85 at-bats).

Holt, who leads the American League with a .364 average in day games (43-for-118), will bat second.

In the Labor Day matinee the Sox will attempt to slow down left-hander Drew Smyly (9-10, 3.31 ERA). Smyly, acquired from the Tigers in the David Price deal at the trade deadline, has won three straight with a 0.88 ERA over that span. In his last outing, Smyly allowed one run on two hits in a 3-1 victory at division-leading Baltimore on Wednesday. That was preceded by a complete-game two-hitter in an 8-0 win over the Blue Jays.

“This is probably one of the better stretches I’ve had as a starter,” he told MLB.com.

Smyly is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox. David Ortiz is 4-for-7 against him.

On the hill for Boston is Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.81 ERA), who allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings in the Red Sox‘ 11-7 victory in 11 innings over the Blue Jays last Tuesday. The right-hander has a 6.46 ERA over his last three starts.

RED SOX LINEUP

Mookie Betts, CF

Brock Holt, 2B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, DH

Allen Craig, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Christian Vazquez, C

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Rubby untarnished: De La Rosa ‘strong’ in face of career-high workload 08.22.14 at 12:52 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa didn’t try to hide the frustration of Thursday’s end result.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The right-hander gave the Red Sox a solid 6 2/3 innings, holding the Angels to two runs on eight hits and three walks on 111 pitches. But he took the 2-0 loss after being outdueled by Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, who tossed a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings against an anemic and shorthanded Red Sox offense. There was only so much De La Rosa could do.

“I tried to do my best,” De La Rosa said. “I tried to push myself.”

All disappointment aside, it was another significant night for De La Rosa, who threw over 110 pitches for the third time in his last five starts.

This August has been unlike most for De La Rosa. This August, he said, he feels strong, maybe stronger than he’s ever been in his major league career. His 6 2/3 innings Thursday puts him at 78 innings pitched for the season, more than he’s ever tossed in his first three years combined. Add that to the 60 innings he’s thrown in Triple-A Pawtucket and he’s at 138 for the year, after never having surpassed 110 1/3 in his pro career entering 2014.

The closest he’s come to this year’s big league workload came in 2011, when he pitched 60 2/3 innings for the Dodgers — he pitched 40 innings in the minor leagues that season — before suffering a partially torn ligament in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on Aug. 9, 2011. De La Rosa blew opponents away that season with his 100 mile-per-hour fastball, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA for the Dodgers and looking like a star on the rise.

All of that potential was seemingly in jeopardy.

“I have to make it back,” De La Rosa, then 22, said at the timeRead the rest of this entry »

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Matt Shoemaker 08.21.14 at 8:00 am ET
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The Red Sox finish their four-game series against the Angels at Fenway Park on Thursday night when they send Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Matt Shoemaker.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

De La Rosa (4-4, 3.79 ERA) showed signs of consistency in recent outings, tossing three straight quality starts, two of which came on the road. But Saturday was a setback. The right-hander was tagged for six runs on nine hits over four innings, and took a no-decision in a Red Sox win over the Astros. He walked four and struck out two on 89 pitches. It was De La Rosa’s worst outing since a seven-run meltdown in Toronto on July 24 and his most walks allowed since June 19.

“It was a struggle for him tonight,” Farrell said after the game. “He struggled with his command, struggled with any type of put-away pitch.”

One of De La Rosa’s best starts this season came in his Aug. 10 outing against the Angels. He pitched into the eighth inning for his first road win of the year, giving up one run on five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. De La Rosa is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.

Shoemaker (11-4, 3.84 ERA) has been a surprising success for the Angels this season. An undrafted pitcher out of Eastern Michigan University, the righty maintained a professional career by pitching well in Triple-A the last two years.

The 27-year-old got his big league chance this year after a combination of injuries and struggles from normally reliable starters left a hole in the rotation. And he’s taken advantage of that opportunity. He’s third on the team in wins and ERA over 96 innings this season.

“I definitely thought it was a possibility,” Shoemaker said of attaining this kind of success in 2014. “Did I think it was going to happen? Not necessarily. But my competitiveness tells me, ‘Hey, it’s possible. Anything is possible.’ “

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