Jorge De La Rosa: Is the Bullpen the Answer?
Jorge De La Rosa holds a place of history with the Colorado Rockies. Now in his ninth season with the Rockies, De La Rosa is having to reinvent himself in order to keep himself as a viable option for the club.
With 79 wins, De La Rosa is the winningest pitcher in Rockies history. It’s a place that he has earned … and the number has also earned him respect among his teammates and the Rockies organization. Knowing that, when De La Rosa hit hard times earlier this season, Colorado was quick to react with a plan to hopefully help him regain his rhythm on the mound.
De La Rosa was placed on the disabled list in late April with a left groin injury … but that wasn’t all that seemed wrong with the 35-year-old southpaw. Through his first five starts, De La Rosa had a 10.18 ERA and lasted more than five innings just once.
His return from the DL on May 24 didn’t go much better as he allowed nine hits and seven runs in just 3.1 innings in a loss to the Boston Red Sox. Knowing something had to be done, De La Rosa was moved to the bullpen in hopes of him snapping back into form.
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No one knew how De La Rosa would react to the change, but his first outing showed promised. In his initial relief outing, De La Rosa allowed two hits and no runs over two innings on May 28 against the San Francisco Giants.
“I don’t think about anything right now; it feels really weird,” De La Rosa told MLB.com. “I’m just trying to do the same thing, attack the hitters and make the outs like the want me to.
“This thing is new for me. I’ve been starting for a lot of years. But I will try to do my best from there.”
Colorado manager Walt Weiss knows this is a new experience for De La Rosa and is hoping it’s the answer.
“I think you have to change your thinking a little bit,” Weiss said about coming out of the bullpen rather than starting. “From my standpoint, you want to make sure you give a guy like that ample time to get ready because he’s not used to getting ready as a reliever. He’s used to having more time as a starter. From my perspective, those are the types of things I’m thinking about. From Jorge’s perspective, I think it made him go in and attack and not have to think about the bulk of six or seven innings.
“Just go out there and throw for a couple of innings simplifies some things and that’s part of the plan of getting him right again.”
Weiss knows De La Rosa is doing what he can to regain his standing as a pitcher the Rockies can count on in any situation.
“He and Darren Holmes (Colorado bullpen coach) got some good work in over the last few days and De La was able to take it into competition and did a nice job,” Weiss said. “I was looking forward to seeing him in that role and what it looked like. He looked good.”
Weiss said having De La Rosa in the bullpen might not only change things for the former starter but the entire relieving corps as well.
“Sometimes, just the fact that our other guys are down in the bullpen and aren’t available, roles change,” Weiss said. “If a starter’s out early in the game, roles can change. When you have to put together four or five innings out of the bullpen, you have to improvise a little bit. It tends to fall into place if you get a six-plus-inning from your starter. Things fall into place very nicely in the bullpen, but that’s not always the case.”
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For now, the Rockies are hoping things fall into place for Jorge De La Rosa. No matter what role he has for the pitching staff the rest of the season, a successful De La Rosa will make the Rockies more successful as well.