De La Rosa’s Tough Debut At Coors


The Rockies are hoping their ace can be his usual brilliant self at home this year, but he wasn’t last night.

I was really excited about yesterday’s game, because it was the first game I attended this season and because it was Jorge De La Rosa‘s first start of 2015. If the Rockies are going to be good this year, they need a lot of pieces that didn’t work in 2014 to click into place, but they also need everything that did work to keep working. DLR is one of those pieces, and a very important one at that. His home/away splits last year made him a stellar Coors pitcher, not a label very many people can claim. It’s critical that he maintain it this year.

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Unfortunately, last night’s start was weak at best and disastrous at worst. By the end of the first inning, the Padres had batted through their line-up and posted a five-spot on the scoreboard. DLR fired pitch after pitch at their belts, and they made him pay. They found every gap in the field, too; a couple of balls were misplayed by the outfield, but I’ve forgotten which ones because they were flying all over the place, so it hardly seemed to matter. This doesn’t alarm me for the long term with DLR. He will bounce back, and the more comfortable he gets with Nick Hundley, the better off he’ll be. But I am sure he did not intend to melt down so completely in his first start.

It’s tough for an offense to respond in a situation like that. You know you’re probably going down with the ship no matter what, so it doesn’t seem like the right day to leave it all on the field. Still, there is really no excuse for making Odrisamer Despaigne, a league-average pitcher of whom I’d never heard before yesterday, look like a rock star. He went 6 2/3 innings and surrendered just 6 hits, striking out 6 along the way. The Rockies only got the ball out of the infield a few times against Despaigne.

By the time he came out of the game, the rest of the Rockies had done their best to make sure DLR would not be rescued from his bed-wetting. Justin Morneau muffed his second foul pop-up in as many days in the 5th, and the Padres would go on to score five runs with 2 outs. Everything about that sentence is unacceptable. The #CoorsShield has taken pains to unearn that nickname these past couple of days, right down to Troy Tulowitzki, who let a groundball escape through his legs last night. Like I said, it’s difficult for anyone to go for broke in a game where you’re down by so much before you even get a chance to hit, but it was still disheartening to watch everything come off the rails so completely.

I will say this–despite Christian Friedrich‘s struggles after Morneau dropped the pop-up, he has continued to show that he’ll be an effective long reliever out of the bullpen. His fellows were successful as well: after LaTroy Hawkins gave up another home run, Rafael Betancourt, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Brown, and Boone Logan combined for four scoreless innings and stifled an offense that had previously looked unstoppable. Perhaps it’s not in the cards for the Rockies that everything works at one time. Now that the bullpen is finally effective, the starters are struggling, or the offense, or the defense, or all of the above. Until they can find a way to put it all together, the team will continue to sink further and further into the basement of the NL West, no matter how hot their start.

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Everything you need to know about this game can be summed up by the words of former Rockie Clint Barmes, talking about Despaigne’s first major league hit, which came in the in the 3rd: “Hands down that was the biggest hit of the night.” By that point, the game was won, so relatively meaningless milestones were more important than scoring runs.