Young guns for hire
Once upon a time the minor league fireballing heroics of Nathan Eovaldi, Rubby De La Rosa, and Chris Withrow made Dodger prospect hounds salivate with the idea of adding these three high-velocity prospects to the Dodger rotation.
All three have several things in common:
- Each of them was a top five Dodger prospect
- Each of them could throw a fastball through a barn door
- Each of them has had TJ surgery
- None of them have ever reached the original expectations though Eovaldi and Rubby have had moments.
- Each of them has been cut loose this winter and are now free to sign with any team
It was back in 2011 when Rubby showed up throwing 96 MPH and was the gem of the system. He made his first appearance for the Dodgers on May 24th, 2011 and would stay with the team until he blew out his elbow in late July. Until the elbow went out, everyone expected him to be a permanent fixture in the 2012 rotation. He would never pitch for the Dodgers again as he was traded the following summer in the Punto deal. It took Rubby a while to get over his TJ surgery but every once in a while he would show some glimpses of what his future might be. In the summer of 2015, Joc Pederson hit a grand slam off of Rubby and on June 8th his ERA sat at 5.98 and he seemed destined for AAA or the bullpen. However, something clicked and over his next thirteen starts he put up an ERA of 2.83 in 81 innings. He wasn’t great by any means but he was averaging six innings a start during that stretch. Many expected Rubby to take the next step up in 2016, he turned 27 on March 4th and was supposed to be part of the newly revamped Diamondback team that was going to make a run at the Giants/Dodgers. We know how that turned out and as bad as it was for the Diamondbacks it was even worse for Rubby whose season ended on May 25th. He would come back in late Sept for two games to show he could still throw but 2016 was a bitter season for Rubby. The Diamondbacks have new management and they didn’t feel that Rubby was worth what he might win in arbitration so he’s now free to make a deal with any team.
Nathan Eovaldi actually replaced Rubby in the Dodger rotation in 2011 and while he didn’t AVG 96 on his fastball he did average 94 and could hit 99 at times. His command was spotty in 2011 but he did make six starts before moving to the bullpen in Sept. Eovaldi cracked the Dodger rotation in 2012 by late May and would make 10 starts for the team before being traded for Hanley Ramirez. In the winter of 2014 he was traded to the Marlins for Matin Prado and was a mainstay in the Yankee rotation until he blew out his elbow on Aug 10, 2016. He has undergone TJ surgery and will be out all of 2017 so the Yankee’s non-tendered him several weeks ago.
With Rubby and Eovaldi gone, 2007 1st round pick Chris Withrow would show up in 2013 and also hit 96 MPH and give glimpses of a bright future. Withrow made his Dodger debut in June of 2013 and would stay with the team the rest of the season. He was a bright spot in the bullpen giving up only 20 hits in his first 34 innings. His best game that season was a scoreless three-inning extra inning effort to help the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks on July 10th. He started out 2014 as the best pitcher in the bullpen. In his first 16 games, he pitched 17 innings, gave up one earned run, and only three hits. On May 17th his career came crashing down, as he gave up five runs and one game later was slated for TJ surgery. Withrow would also never again pitch for the Dodgers, being part of the silly Callaspo trade in the summer of 2015. Withrow took a long long time to come back from his TJ surgery and did not pitch for the Braves until 2016. He wasn’t great this summer, but he sure wasn’t bad. He had one horrific game on June 12th in which he gave up six runs but in all the other games combined he pitched in 45 games, 37 IP, 9 Earned Runs, only 24 hits. Of those 45 games, 37 times he pitched a scoreless outing. Fangraphs has him only hitting 94 MPH these days.
You could make a case for all three of these pitchers pro and con. I made the case for Eovaldi several weeks ago as someone to sign now to a two-year deal and hope for a payoff in 2018.
Rubby is a huge injury risk. He avoided TJ surgery this summer but was shut down in Sept when he attempted to come back. He said he doesn’t have pain but that he just didn’t feel right. Either way, whoever takes the chance on Rubby might be doing themselves a favor by also looking to move him into the bullpen.
Withrow looks like he’d help any bullpen in some capacity. He no longer is the guy that some(including me) felt could be a dominant closer but he certainly seems to have come back to the point of being at least a Chris Hatcher.