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Rubby De La Rosa to be Arizona Diamondbacks fourth starter

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As expected, there will be a competition for the fifth spot in the D-backs rotation this year. Not as expected: one of the contestants will be Robbie Ray

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With new arrivals Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller joining Patrick Corbin at the front of the Diamondbacks rotation, the front three spots were locked in before pitchers and catchers reported. It was generally expected that the fourth slot would go to Robbie Ray, who had apparently done nothing to pitch himself out of a spot, with his 3.52 ERA the best among any of our regular starters - ahead, even of Corbin. This would leave the fifth spot open in spring, probably between Rubby De La Rosa and Archie Bradley, with Zack Godley and other candidates as outside bets. However, news from Salt River this morning suggests otherwise.

Nick Piecoro was first, albeit mere seconds ahead of Steve Gilbert - probably a good thing, in case you had difficulty believing it the first time.

Let me repeat that. Rubby De La Rosa - he of the 87 ERA+ last year - will be in the rotation. Robbie Ray - he of the 116 ERA+ - will have to fight for his spot. While there's no denying De La Rosa's raw stuff, he has one obvious and glaring flaw in his makeup. He is completely unable to get left-handers out. Here are the splits from 2015 for both him and Ray.. With Ray being a left-hander, I've done the splits for both men facing batters of the same hand and against opposite handed hitters.

vs. same hand
vs.opposite hand
Pitcher BA OBP SLG OPS BA OBP SLG OPS
Rubby De La Rosa .214 .265. 346 .611 .315 .382 .567 .948
Robbie Ray .263 .307 .415 .723 .252 .339 ,394 .733

Those are some brutal splits for De La Rosa, and starting pitchers can't hide from them, in the same way as relievers can. I defer to Clefo in his opinion here:

I'm hopeful more light will be shed on the decision this afternoon at FanFest. Because, based on last year's performance, it doesn't appear to make much sense to anoint De La Rosa with a rotation spot. Especially before he has proven that he no longer basically turns left handed hitters into Mike Trout (career OPS = .956).