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De La Rosa makes history as McKenry delivers the win for the Colorado Rockies

David Martin Avatar
May 22, 2015


The story of Michael McKenry is an interesting one for the Colorado Rockies.

On Thursday at a gloomy and dreary Coors Field, McKenry provided the ray of sunshine for the Rockies. He broke a 3-3 tie in the 5th inning with a two-run blast to left field off of Phillies starter Jerome Williams to give the Rockies a 5-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

He was a top prospect coming up in the Rockies farm system, one in a long line of catching prospects who had the franchise excited about the future. However, like so many of those others, McKenry never hit the pinnacle of what scouts had thought that he could be when he was drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 draft out of Middle Tennessee State. After being rewarded with a September call-up in 2010, one in which he never recorded a hit, McKenry’s day’s in a Rockies uniform were done.

The squatty catcher was traded to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Daniel Turpen, who never sniffed the big leagues. McKenry’s career was on the brink when the Red Sox waived him, allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to claim him for next to nothing. In Pittsburgh, where manager Clint Hurdle was very familiar with McKenry, the catcher finally got his chance. While his bat was never phenomenal, his defense became very highly regarded. After an injury de-railed his 2013 season, he suddenly found a chance with a bunch of familiar faces. The Rockies re-signed McKenry, bringing him on for backup catcher duties.

In a whirlwind, McKenry was back with the team that he made his debut with and was traded from within three years.

The catcher has shown his value in multiple ways. He isn’t the greatest hitter in the world, but realistically he hasn’t had a chance to truly get a feel for hitting at the big league level. Despite at-bats spanning over six years, McKenry has only recorded 743 at-bats heading into Wednesday’s game. That is barely over one full season for an every day player.

While the offense isn’t phenomenal, the defense seems to be worth the offensive sacrifice. A year ago, when Wilin Rosario was the main catcher, it seemed that McKenry would commonly find himself in games in which the starting pitcher had struggled the past couple of times out on the mound. He found himself working with some of the younger pitchers like Tyler Matzek quite a bit in 2014. His presence behind the plate was a welcomed difference to what Rosario simply couldn’t provide.

On Thursday he got to be the hero at the plate, driving in the game winning runs with his first home run of the season.

McKenry was the hero at the plate, but Rockies ace Jorge De La Rosa also reached a significant milestone. His fifth strikeout of the day also happened to be his 774th in a Rockies uniform. That number might sound random, but it is one higher than Ubaldo Jimenez struck out with the Rockies, giving De La Rosa sole possession of the title of strikeout king for the Rockies.

De La Rosa, who didn’t stay in the game long enough to pick up a win on Thursday, sits at 70 wins in purple pinstripes. That is just two shy of Aaron Cook, who is the club’s all-time win’s leader.

In perhaps the quietest fashion of any pitcher in baseball, De La Rosa has etched his name in the history books as the best pitcher in Rockies franchise history. He doesn’t walk around like he is a big deal, but by the end of the season, De La Rosa will lead both of those categories.  Based on the differences between him and every other active pitcher in the Rockies organization, he will be the leader for a very long time.

The records are a testament to De La Rosa’s perseverance. He was just coming into his own in 2009 when he led the Rockies to the playoffs with 16 wins. However, the following year he dealt with an odd finger injury that required season-ending surgery. The following season, 2011, he came back and was a huge part of the fanbase’s excitement for that campaign when his elbow gave way and he was out for another year recovering from Tommy John surgery. The timing caused him to essentially miss two full seasons.

It would have been easy for the lefty to lose faith in himself. He had just lost three of his prime years to injury, right when he was becoming a dominant pitcher. Instead, however, the lefty won 16 and 14 games respectively in each of the next two seasons. His determination is something that the Rockies should praise often.

Jorge De La Rosa and Michael McKenry had big achievements on Wednesday, but something also must be noted for a team that has so badly been struggling. The Rockies offense, who had struck out at least 11 times in four straight games earlier in the week, didn’t strike out a single time in the win. It was another good sign that when a batter makes contact, good things can happen.


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