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Last year the Boston Red Sox went to Allen Webster for spot starts and left Rubby De La Rosa primarily to junk time relief situations. Clearly organizational thinking has changed. De La Rosa will start tonight against the hated Tampa Bay Rays for the oft-injured Clay Buchholz, in a game the Sox must desperately want to win after last night’s fireworks.
Webster has not impressed in his limited time in the big leagues and has looked like a deer in the headlights at his worst. Webster has been solid at AAA so far in 2014, and is coming off an eight inning, three-hit, seven punchout performance in Pawtucket yesterday.
De La Rosa, meanwhile, is 2-3 this year in 10 starts, but owns a sparkling 3.04 ERA while averaging almost a strikeout per inning. He was also pretty good in his last start, throwing six shutout innings with five strikeouts against the Syracuse Chiefs.
With Felix Doubront and Buchholz currently struggling with durability as well as effectiveness, De La Rosa may well become an important part of this year’s rotation. He was the key component of the 2012 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that marked an end of an era in Boston (Webster also was acquired in that blockbuster trade). We heard a lot of hype during spring training that he was working with Sox legend Pedro Martinez, was fully healthy a couple years removed from Tommy John surgery, and was finally rounding in the pitcher we hoped he would be.
Let’s see how he does tonight.