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De La Rosa dazzles as Colorado Rockies even series in Oakland

David Martin Avatar
July 1, 2015

 

Colorado Rockies fans won’t know what they had until he’s gone.

Jorge De La Rosa, perhaps the most under-appreciated starting pitcher in Rockies history, did what he seems to do every time he takes the mound. Every fifth day, it feels like the words are all the same. It feels like the scenario is almost exactly the same every time.

Here is how it goes down; De La Rosa allows a base runner, the runner steals, a walk happens, and suddenly De La Rosa is in a jam. On Tuesday night in Oakland it was that common story. A base hit a wild pitch, a walk and a steal put runners on first and third base with no one out. Ben Zobrist then ripped a ball to third base, where Nolan Arenado fired to the plate where a rundown ensued. It lasted long enough for the Oakland runners to move to second and third base with only one out.

With the Rockies clinging to a two-run lead, De La Rosa was one base hit away from giving away the lead. Normal baseball fans start to bite their fingernails and sit on the edge of their seats. Not fans of De La Rosa. Those who watch him regularly see him get into those situations and almost start to relax, knowing that he is going to wiggle off the hook.

After an intentional walk to Billy Butler, he struck out Josh Phegley on three pitches, giving him two outs with the bases loaded. One out away from getting out of the jam is often times when other Rockies pitchers find themselves giving up the big hit. Not De La Rosa. The lefty seems to bear down and focus more in those situations. On Tuesday he did it again. He got the dangerous Brett Lawrie to ground out to Nolan Arenado to end the inning and keep the A’s off of the board.

The mark of a good pitcher isn’t in how great his stuff is. There are plenty of talented pitchers who have great stuff that never have success in the big leagues. That story gets told every year. The mark of a good pitcher is limiting damage when bad things start to happen. In De La Rosa’s case, early in his career a bad start to an inning may have ended with a big number on the board for the opposition. However, the veteran De La Rosa stops the bleeding immediately. It seems nearly impossible, but he seems to always find a way to wiggle out of the situation.

De La Rosa is an ace because he is poised enough and believes in himself enough to know that if he makes his pitches, he will get outs. If he stays in control of his pitches, it is going to be easier for him to get outs then for the hitter to get hits. It always seems to work out for the Rockies ace.

In all, De La Rosa went seven scoreless innings, giving up only four hits. He walked four and struck out four. The four strikeouts left him one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career.

The Rockies held on to win 2-1. It was the exact type of game that showed how important it is going to be moving forward to build around pitching. Without a starter who could keep the Rockies in the game, there is little chance that the game would have ended up as a win for the Rockies. Having a pitcher on the mound who is good enough to give the club confidence is huge.

The Rockies don’t need five De La Rosa’s to be their starting pitchers, but if they could find a way to groom one or two more guys to attack the game the way that he does, the franchise would be in a much different spot. The Rockies need more guys to pitch like Jorge De La Rosa if they ever want long-term success.

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