Jorge De La Rosa starts Friday night for the Rockies against the Chicago Cubs. Image: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
I have had the honor of writing for Rox Pile as part of the Fansided network since November of 2011. In that time I, like any other writer, have obsessed over certain issues.
The very first article I wrote argued that the Rockies should sign then-free-agent Michael Cuddyer. I would pat myself on the back for that one if I hadn’t flip-flopped on myself and argued that the Rockies trade him this past off-season. Still, it signaled the start of my love for the guy (but really, who doesn’t love Cuddy?)
The notion that it is impossible to pitch at altitude? Bugs me.
Paired pitching? Bugs me even more.
And then there is Jorge De La Rosa. His importance to the Colorado Rockies is a narrative that always gets my attention. Team success in baseball can hardly be attributed to one guy, but then again, when De La Rosa has been good the Rockies have been good. I remain obsessed with the fact that he just seems so dang important to this team.
In 2009 De La Rosa injured himself in the season’s final series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That ended any hopes the Rockies had in the playoffs.
In 2011 he walked off the field with an injury during the first game of a day-night doubleheader. I was in attendance, and I could not help but feel that so much more was lost than just that one player when he departed that gloomy afternoon and eventually needed Tommy John surgery.
The Rockies were terrible for a lot of reasons in 2012, but it at least bears mentioning that De La Rosa essentially missed the entire year and was not very good in limited action near the end of the season.
Now the Rockies are recovering, slowly but surely, from last year’s disaster. They are within five games of first place and they are one winning streak away from being serious contenders. Along with his buddies Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood, De La Rosa is a big reason why. His resurgence (3.21 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 74 K’s and 38 BB’S) has set the tone for everybody else’s success.
You would probably designate Chacin as the staff “ace,” but you would be remiss if you didn’t note that De La Rosa was consistently good this season before Chacin was.
Tonight the Rockies start their post-All-Star Game schedule, and De La Rosa has another chance to set the tone for his team. As anybody who covers or talks about the Rockies would tell you, they have a chance to do damage in their next 10 games. They host the Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, and Milwaukee Brewers. Of those teams, the Cubs pose the biggest threat, as they played solid baseball heading into the All-Star break.
It might not be a “trap” series, but the Rockies definitely might stub their toes against the Cubs. Playing at home and with their team healthy and ready to go, that cannot happen. De La Rosa’s start tonight can go a long way towards making sure it doesn’t.
Once again Jorge De La Rosa is one of the most important players on the Rockies. I wouldn’t have it any other way.