De La Rosa, Godley, Corbin combine for 0.43 ERA in series
By Jake Rill
PHOENIX -- D-backs starter Rubby De La Rosa has worked with pitching coach Mike Harkey on his two-seam fastball, the pitch that the right-hander needs to use effectively low in the strike zone to induce ground balls.
He used a heavy dose of two-seamers on Saturday night against the Brewers, and the result was just what Harkey and the D-backs have been looking for: De La Rosa pitched eight scoreless innings in one of his best outings of the season to lead Arizona to a 2-0 win.
"He's probably had more electric stuff velocity-wise, but he's just starting to pitch," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "He's learning and he's getting better."
The D-backs' offense has been slumping and Saturday was no different. After scoring a pair of runs in the first inning, they had just one hit the rest of the way.
But while the offense is struggling, the starting pitching has excelled. Over the last three games, De La Rosa, Zack Godley, and Patrick Corbin have combined for a 0.43 ERA, 23 strikeouts, and a .164 opponents against average.
"They've done a nice job, they've worked down in the zone," Hale said. "It just seems like when one guy has a good outing, now the next guy wants to do better and keep it going."
In the middle of June, De La Rosa was giving the D-backs consistent outings nearly every time out, but hit a bit of a rough patch entering July. However, the right-hander has gotten back on track, as he won for the second straight outing and has allowed just one run in his last 15 innings pitched.
De La Rosa had six strikeouts and 13 ground-ball outs. He stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings and four of the first five.
"I feel confidence in my two-seamer, so I try to use it because right now it's really good. I try to throw it no matter what," De La Rosa said. "When I'm pitching down, it's a big difference for me."
De La Rosa ran into some trouble in the eighth, his final inning of work, as his pitch count exceeded the century mark and he issued a one-out walk to Jonathan Lucroy. With closer Brad Ziegler warmed in the bullpen, Hale came out to visit with his starter.
De La Rosa and catcher Welington Castillo convinced Hale that the right-hander was fine to stay in and finish the frame, and he got Brewers slugger Ryan Braun to fly out and Shane Peterson to ground out to end the inning.
"He had really good command of his fastball, good two-seam down in the zone, good slider behind the count, good changeup," Castillo said. "He was attacking the strike zone, down in the zone. When we had to elevate the fastball, we did."
Jake Rill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.