Friday, July 3, 2009

Hip, Hip, Jorge; De La Rosa Dominates D-Backs

A clear sign that your bullpen is pitching well is when, with two outs in the ninth inning with no one on base and two outs, the closer is summoned from the bullpen, just to get some work.

On Friday night, wearing their red hats in honor of the 4th of July holiday, Jorge De La Rosa came three outs from breaking a Rockies franchise record for complete games in a row. After Jason Marquis dazzled the Dodgers on Tuesday and Jason Hammel pitched nearly as well on Wednesday, De La Rosa matched his teammates pitch for pitch.

With a 5-0 lead after eight innings, and 107 pitches thrown, De La Rosa may have been given a chance to change the Rockies record book, but the bullpen was in desperate need of some work. That meant that Joel Peralta was given the first two hitters and closer Huston Street was given the last hitter.

Overall De La Rosa's line read eight innings pitched, four hits with four walks and six strikeouts, while not giving up a single run. He was helped out by two ground ball double plays.

The success of De La Rosa epitomizes the recent success of the Rockies. During their hot streak their have been very few concerns with the Rockies. Wins have come easily and all facets of the game seem to be in sync. Yet, one of the concerns for the Rockies was De La Rosa.

De La Rosa is a hard throwing lefty who has the stuff to be successful in the big leagues. The only problem for him is that he is prone to the big inning. When runners get on, or when the umpire does not give him the calls that he wants, he implodes. The average fan can easily see him lose his composure at which time his mechanics fall apart he leaves the ball up in the zone, perfect for the opposition to hurt him with.

Friday night, however, was a different story. De La Rosa had all of his pitches working. His change up, a pitch that De La Rosa needs in order to be successful, was perfect. He threw it with ease and used it when he needed to make a big pitch.

The biggest measuring stick for De La Rosa, however, was the fact that when runners got on base he never lost his composure. Instead of forcing pitches and getting out in front of himself, the lefty sat back and let his defense do the work. De La Rosa induced two ground ball double plays and got 14 ground ball outs on the night.

For quite some time most who follow the Rockies have been waiting and wondering when Franklin Morales or someone else will fill in as the fifth starter for De La Rosa.

On Friday, De La Rosa made his critics look silly. Not distracted by the pressure of losing his spot, he made pitches when he needed to and kept hitters off balance with his breaking pitches.

It was a night that should add just a little more confidence to the Rockies clubhouse. After a June in which they set a club record for wins in a month and led all of baseball in victories, they now can feel confident in a strong starting rotation.

With De La Rosa pitching as well as he has been, and solidifying his abilities on Friday, Colorado now boasts one of the strongest rotations not only in the National League, but in all of baseball. Top to bottom, there is not one starting pitcher that gives the team the feeling that they will not be able to win the game that night.

When a team knows that they have the chance to be in a game every single day it gives them the confidence boost to scratch out hits and stay focused for the whole game in order to win the game.

From Aaron Cook to Jorge De La Rosa the Rockies have built the starting pitching staff to get them into the playoffs and possibly beyond.

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