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Despite being the Colorado Rockies ace, Jorge De La Rosa doesn’t often get the credit that he deserves.
With Zack Grienke on the mound for the Dodgers, the Rockies were going to need a great start to have a chance to win. After a quick run courtesy of Carlos Gonzalez, De La Rosa led the team the rest of the way.
On Saturday night in Los Angeles the left-hander quieted his doubters. De La Rosa was absolutely brilliant. In 7-1/3 innings, De La Rosa gave up just two hits, one of which easily could have been ruled an error. He didn’t allow a run while striking out three batters. Most importantly, something the Rockies pitching staff has struggled with, he didn’t walk a single batter. The only thing that could stop De La Rosa on Saturday was his own body. His groin flared up in the 8th inning and forced him out of the game.
Those who have watched De La Rosa over the years knew that this type of performance was coming. As he worked his way back from the initial groin injury that essentially shut him down in spring training, he has continued to get better in each start. On Sunday, De La Rosa’s last start, he was very good until his command got the best of him late in the outing. It was the final step in his return to form.
The thing with De La Rosa is that even if he has struggled in the past, there is a feeling that any time he takes the mound there is a great chance that he is going to keep his team in the game. On Saturday he did far more than that, literally pitching the Rockies to victory.
It seems that when he struggles, no other Rockie takes as much heat as De La Rosa. For whatever reason other players get the benefit of the doubt, but De La Rosa takes criticism. Despite being the best pitcher in Coors Field history, and nearing the title of best overall pitcher in Rockies history, De La Rosa continues to have to prove himself to some.
Very few pitchers in the game have the stuff that De La Rosa possesses. His fastball lives in the mid-90’s and his change up drops off of the table. He also locks up batters with a sharp slider. When he is on his stuff sits in the lower half of the strike zone and he gets ground ball after groundball out. That was certainly the case on Saturday. The lefty induced 14 outs on the ground while only recording three outs via a flyball.
De La Rosa’s outing should serve as a blueprint for the rest of the starters to model themselves after. In 95 total pitches on Saturday night, 62 of which were strikes.
What Rockies starters have struggled with in the first six weeks of the season has been the ability to throw strikes and avoid giving the opposition free base runners. Tyler Matzek pitched his way back to Triple-A because of his inability to throw strikes, and while Eddie Butler has shown signs of growth, he too has had a very hard time consistently throwing strikes.
Rockies fans might not realize how lucky they are to have De La Rosa. The lefty could have tested free agency, and with his track record, he easily could have received a deal worth more money and potentially more years than the Rockies gave him. However, it is well known that De La Rosa loves Colorado and he loves pitching at Coors Field. While he struggled early in the season, De La Rosa gives the Rockies at least one starting pitcher that gives the team some hope. He can be the stopper when the team is struggling and he can be the model for how the young pitchers need to get it done.
Little will be said about it, but the win was De La Rosa’s 70th in a Rockies uniform. He is now just two wins shy of Aaron Cook for the most wins in club history. Most of that work has come on teams that weren’t very good. De La Rosa was winning nearly 15 games per season when the teams that he was pitching for were losing in the neighborhood of 90 games.
If De La Rosa can pitch through his groin injury and it doesn’t continue to get worse, the Rockies may have some hope for rebounding and turning the 2015 campaign into what they were hoping it could be, a year where they shake the title of National League West door mat and become a competitive team once again.
The Rockies have struggled through May, but De La Rosa’s performance on Saturday revives some hope for fans of this team and gives them a reason to believe that the 2015 season won’t be all that bad.