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The San Diego Chargers put up a couple of touchdowns and the Broncos could only muster a field goal…wait, this was baseball?
Jorge De La Rosa’s 2015 debut went about as bad as anyone could have imagined. Maybe worse. The Rockies ace went just two innings, giving up nine runs on seven hits. Two of those were unearned.
The line looks horrible, but really, De La Rosa’s struggles can be summoned up simply. He left the ball too high in the zone and paid the price for it. He wasn’t finishing his pitches and keeping them down in the zone. Rockies fans might want to be worried about their ace, but the reality is, not only was this his first start of the season, he essentially had no spring training. He fought his groin injury throughout March and isn’t just two weeks behind, he’s probably closer to four weeks.
De La Rosa is the Rockies ace for a reason. However, he is going to take some time to round into form. It doesn’t happen in two Triple-A rehab starts and one big league start. De La Rosa will be fine, it is just going to take a few starts to get the Jorge De La Rosa that Rockies fans are used to out on the mound.
The Rockies had to use six guys in the bullpen. Christian Friedrich was forced to pitch 2-2/3 innings, throwing 45 pitches. He will definitely not be available on Tuesday night, and Wednesday might even be questionable at this point.
It is early in the season, but the Rockies are making a habit of using their bullpen too frequently. The starting pitchers must start working deeper into games. The bullpen, which has shaped up to be a very solid part of this Rockies team, will be completely burned out by July if the starting pitchers can’t start getting into the 7th inning on a regular basis.
While the starting pitching can be blamed for some of the issue, the blame goes around. In two straight days, Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau has booted two foul pop-ups. Sunday in Los Angeles, Morneau’s flub came in the 6th inning right after Howie Kendrick launched a home run to lead the inning off. Andre Ethier then popped up down the first base line. Morneau simply dropped it. Two pitches later, Rockies reliever Scott Oberg walked Ethier, then gave up a home run to Scott Van Slyke, then another one to Joc Pederson.
Morneau wasn’t responsible for the home runs, but with a rookie on the mound, it never helps to give outs away.
On Monday, Morneau dropped another foul pop up. It was definitely a more difficult ball opportunity, but it hit off of the heel of his glove and fell to the ground. After getting Yonder Alonso to ground out to begin the inning, Christian Friedrich was doing a great job of eating innings and saving the Rockies bullpen. Then Clint Barmes hit a foul pop up that should have been the second out of the inning. Instead, Morneau dropped the ball and allowed Barmes to stay alive. He doubled and the inning unraveled.
Friedrich couldn’t make it out of the inning, and LaTroy Hawkins was forced to come in to close out the frame.
Make no mistake, the Rockies loss was not Morneau’s fault. Far from it. However, when a bullpen is already required to pick up seven innings, making more work for the relievers isn’t ideal. It is April now, but those innings will start taking their toll as the summer gets hot and the games wear on.
For the Rockies, the answer is simple. They simply need to shake off the loss and head into Tuesday. Tyler Matzek will take the mound for the club and needs to give the Rockies a solid six innings. That can be an easier task if the Rockies offense can put up some runs and give Matzek some room to breath.
Some fans might be jumping off of the bandwagon. However, it is far too early to give up on a team that started so hot. This team has new management, which seems like it has created a new mindset in the clubhouse.