A season ago, Rubby De La Rosa was pitching with a completely different mind-set.
He wasn’t even a year removed from the blockbuster trade that shipped him from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Red Sox, was barely two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and he was trying to regain his identity as a pitcher in a new organization.
According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, De La Rosa has been a different pitcher this year and it’s been obvious from his body language on the mound.
“Last year was a rehab year and I think there was, from my view, it was almost a physical exercise that he was going out to throw this number of pitches in this outing,” Farrell said before the Red Sox’ 2-1 win over the Royals on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
“This year, in comparison, he’s going out to compete, to pitch, to earn his way back to the major leagues.
“And there’s been a noticeable difference in the demeanor on the mound and the way he’s consistently executed his pitches. So along with that comes some added confidence and I think he shows it in his body language.”
Last season, De La Rosa made 11 appearances for the Sox — none of them starts — and went 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA.
De La Rosa moved to 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA this season after picking up the win against the Royals.
He pitched seven solid innings, allowing one run and five hits while striking out two. In his last four starts, De La Rosa has allowed just five earned runs in 26 innings.
“I believe in myself,” said De La Rosa after the victory. “I think I can do the job. I feel comfortable because I know the staff believes in me.
“I feel everything I did in the past right now is coming good. So I saw a lot of the results I’ve been working for, that I’ve been looking for. So I feel everything’s coming good. I feel more like me. I feel like I can do what I like to do.”
You have to go back 18 appearances to find the last time Andrew Miller allowed an inherited runner to score.
He’s put together 10 straight scoreless appearances, largely by overpowering hitters. His 61 strikeouts ranks fourth among AL relievers.
“He’s got strikeout ability and that’s what allows him to shut down innings,” Farrell said. “He’s a closer in a certain sense. In the seventh, eighth, or whatever inning you call upon him with men in scoring position.”
He earned 11th hold on Saturday night against the Royals. He notched his 10th hold the night before by striking out Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez with a runner on first in the seventh inning.
“In the meat of the order, where they’ve got some very good fastball hitters, Andrew’s done a great job in coming in with situations where he’s had men on, he’s able to record a big strikeout,” Farrell said.
Positional nomadAlthough he came through the Red Sox farm system as a middle infielder, Mookie Betts moved between center field and right field in the 10 games he spent with the Sox before being sent back to Triple A Pawtucket on Saturday to make room for Shane Victorino, and when Farrell was asked if he had a feel for where he sees Betts ultimately settling in, he said he still wasn’t certain.
“I think there are going to be a number of things that contribute to that final positioning,” Farrell said. “How the bat plays, how he further develops defensively.”
Betts initially started taking reps in the outfield with Double A Portland in May. By June, he was spending most of his time in center field.
When he was called up to Pawtucket June 3, he played two games at second base before playing 17 of the next 21 games in the outfield.
“If he’s a guy that potentially moves around to another position, I wouldn’t rule that out,” Farrell said. “But to sit here and say that Mookie is going to be at this position for the next 10 years, I don’t have that answer or that crystal ball.”