SleepersMay 18, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By R.J. White

Most fantasy owners feel uncomfortable employing a Rockies pitcher, suffering from the very real concern that the next start that pitcher makes could be an ugly one. This stigma has led to a 28-year-old lefty that’s doing a heck of a job being rostered in only 16% of Yahoo leagues at this point. The astute Cafe community has already picked up on this hidden gem, and if Jorge de la Rosa is still available in your league, you need to grab him.

After opening the season in an ugly fashion, surrendering five runs in 4.2 innings at home against the Phillies on April 11, de la Rosa hasn’t given up more than three runs in any start. He’s had four quality starts in his seven starts and his last two have been by far the most impressive. On May 9 at Coors Field, de la Rosa held the Marlins to two runs through eight innings, while striking out a dozen and only walking one. He improved on May 15, giving up a single run in seven innings in Pittsburgh, striking out ten and walking none. In that last start, he only needed 89 pitches to get through those seven innings.

To look at the glass half-empty, de la Rosa has faced the bottom tier of Major League offenses in his last five starts, facing Pittsburgh, Florida, San Diego (twice) and Arizona. He’s also only pitched 130 innings in each of the last two years, meaning that a considerable second-half fade is to be expected. However, de la Rosa’s 3.16 ERA and 1.17 WHIP aren’t the result of luck. In fact, his FIP is lower than his ERA, sitting at a pretty 2.99 for the season. This could mean that this great start is actually sustainable.

I would definitely scour your free agency list in your leagues to see if de la Rosa remains available. If so, you should seriously consider adding him. I still wouldn’t do anything crazy like start him against the top offenses, or even solid offenses at home as of yet, but it really looks like he’s turned a corner and is in the middle of a legitimate breakout season.

R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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