That said, when Jorge De La Rosa went down with tear in his throwing elbow, the Colorado Rockies season pretty much went up in smoke.
Imagine a rotation that currently featured a progressing Ubaldo Jimenez, De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, and then Jason Hammel and Juan Nicasio.
The guys at the back end of that rotation have certainly had their struggles, there is no doubt about that. However, for the most part, they have given their team a chance to win in most of their appearances. They haven't been perfect, but very few back end rotation guys do much better than .500, so they have been as good as can be expected.
However, with De La Rosa, there would have been a confidence in the rotation. Before injuring himself in late-May, the left-hander had already picked up five wins and posted an ERA of 3.51. Those numbers came while he was dealing with a blister in three of his 10 starts.
With the injured lefty still throwing every fifth day, the Rockies might possibly have a different confidence in the clubhouse. Instead of knowing that beyond Jimenez and Chacin that they are going to have to put up a bunch of runs to win, they could have the confidence that even in a tight game, they would have a chance to get the job done.
On top of that, these three and four game slides that the Rockies seem to continue going on would be eliminated, or at least curtailed. De La Rosa, it would seem, would be a much better option than Aaron Cook. The club would be able to go out and play competitively, knowing that their starter was going to give them a chance to win that day. With Cook, the body language from the Rockies almost seems as if they are going through the motions, hoping to pick up a win when Cook isn't on the hill.
The problem with that is turning on and off the switch is tough to do. It seems that the Rockies will play well for a day or two, then drop three or four because they can't find their groove offensively. Maybe that happens because they are able to let their guard down every fifth day. Maybe they lose their focus every fifth day because they know that they essentially have zero chance to win the game that day.
With De La Rosa, the Rockies could at least have the feeling that at some point they were going to have a chance to win the ballgame.
The old saying says that momentum in baseball is only as good as a team's next day pitcher. That makes sense when talking about the Rockies. If they do get on a roll after a couple of games, it seems to come to a screeching halt when Cook toes the rubber. Many times that lethargic play has bled into the next few games, snowballing and keeping the Rockies on the outside of the race.
Excuses are just that, excuses. However, with the Rockies depending on a 23-year old in Chacin to not hit speed bumps along the way and Jimenez to suddenly re-capture his 2010 form, it is easy to think about what might have been had De La Rosa been healthy.