In a recent article at Just a Bit Outside, Jeff Sullivan attempted to manipulate the Angels' 2015 starting rotation to give Jered Weaver as many starts at home as possible to gain an advantage. It's important for teams to utilize any edge they can get. One power move the Rockies could do in 2015 is pitch Jorge De La Rosa in as many home games as possible. I think this it would be even more beneficial than in the Weaver case due to the rarity of pitchers who are able to thrive, or even survive, at Coors Field.
As our own Matt Gross and Mike Petriello of FanGraphs recently detailed, Jorge is a great pitcher at Coors Field. Those articles are both worth a read, but the quick version of them is this: De La Rosa's ERA and FIP the last two seasons has been significantly lower at home, his K/BB ratio has been better, and he's gotten more ground balls. My personal favorite though is the Rockies' 48-9 record in De La Rosa's last 57 home starts. 48-9!
To show what kind of a difference boosting De La Rosa home starts could make, I put together a big, fun table. On the left side is what Jorge's starts would look like if the Rockies have him start on opening day and then every fifth game for the rest of the season (I also have him starting the first game after the All-Star break). On the right side is what things could look like for Jorge if the Rockies scheduled his starts around the schedule to maximize the number of starts he makes at Coors Field. Without further adieu, here is your table.
|Opening Day Starter||Optimizing Home starts|
|Team Game No.||Date||Opponent||Team Game No.||Date||Opponent|
|at Brewers||4||April 10||Cubs|
|6||April 12||Cubs||9||April 15||at Giants|
|11||April 18||at Dodgers||14||April 21||Padres|
|16||April 23||Padres||19||April 26||Giants|
|21||April 28||at Diamondbacks||26||May 4||Diamondbacks|
|26||May 4||Diamondbacks||31||May 10||Dodgers|
|31||May 10||Dodgers||36||May 16||at Dodgers|
|36||May 16||at Dodgers||41||May 21||Phillies|
|41||May 21||Phillies||46||May 26||at Reds|
|46||May 26||at Reds||51||June 1||Dodgers|
|51||June 1||Dodgers||56||June 7||Marlins|
|56||June 7||Marlins||61||June 12||at Marlins|
|61||June 12||at Marlins||66||June 17||Astros|
|66||June 17||Astros||71||June 23||Diamondbacks|
|71||June 23||Diamondbacks||77||June 29||at Athletics|
|76||June 28||at Giants||82||July 4||at Diamondbacks|
|81||July 3||at Diamondbacks||87||July 10||Braves|
|86||July 9||Braves||93||July 20||Rangers|
|90||July 17||at Padres||98||July 26||Reds|
|95||July 22||Rangers||103||July 31||at Cardinals|
|100||July 28||at Cubs||108||August 5||Mariners|
|105||August 2||at Cardinals||113||August 11||at Mets|
|110||August 8||at Nationals||118||August 16||Padres|
|115||August 13||at Mets||122||August 21||Mets|
|120||August 19||Nationals||127||August 26||at Braves|
|125||August 24||at Braves||132||September 1||Diamondbacks|
|130||August 30||at Pirates||137||September 6||Giants|
|135||September 4||Giants||141||September 11||at Mariners|
|140||September 9||at Padres||146||September 16||at Dodgers|
|145||September 15||at Dodgers||150||September 21||Pirates|
|150||September 21||Pirates||155||September 26||Dodgers|
|155||September 26||Dodgers||160||October 2||at Giants|
|160||October 2||at Giants|
|Total starts: 33||Home: 15||Away: 18||Total starts: 32||Home: 20||Away: 12|
The most important things there are on the very bottom. On the left side, we have De La Rosa making just 15 of his 33 starts, 45 percent at home. On the right side, we have De La Rosa making 20 of his 32 starts, 63 percent, at home. This not only lets De La Rosa make five additional starts in the environment where he's most comfortable, it also opens up six additional starts for the rest of the pitching staff to make in more pitcher friendly environments, which is everywhere else. It doesn't really do anything weird with his routine either, with him making just one start on more than six days rest all season (not counting the All-Star break). A strategy like this quite possibly could lead to the entire starting rotation being more successful.
Let's say De La Rosa has the same home and road ERA's he's had over the last two seasons and that he pitches the same 184 innings as last year. In scenario one, the left hand column, his ERA for the season is 3.87. In scenario two, the right hand column, his ERA for the season is 3.57. That doesn't look like a huge difference on the surface, but it's important to remember that it isn't the only factor. On top of putting De La Rosa in a position to succeed, it does the same for everyone else by keeping them away from Coors Field.
Frankly, anything the Rockies can do to potentially help their pitching staff is something they should explore. Is something like this likely to be the reason that the Rockies are or aren't a good team in 2015? Probably not. Could it be something that helps them to win a few extra games and, in turn, something that helps them make the playoffs at some point down the line? It might be.
At the very least, we'd be able to find out if De La Rosa really does have Coors Field magic.