|De La Rosa is a quiet superstar.|
It would be easy to focus on an offense that has been so bad that they have nearly played themselves out of the playoff picture. They continued to take bad at-bats and not work counts against young pitchers who they have never faced before.
Once again, the Marlins starter averaged under 13 pitches per inning. If it happens once, it might be a bad night, when it happens twice, it can be called a bad couple of games, when it continues for a month, it is a problem.
However, in spite of the Rockies offensive issues, one guy in particular has done nothing but put his head down and do everything that can be done to help the team win baseball games. What is surprising is how little recognition he is getting for it.
Jorge De La Rosa picked up his 10th win of the season after another phenomenal outing. He went six innings, giving up five hits and zero runs. He struck out five and walked one. He dealt with traffic in the first two innings, but worked out of it on both occasions. After those two innings, he was nearly untouchable. Because the Rockies seem to think that arms fall off of pitchers after 100 pitches, the Rockies ace was taken out after six innings, and the bullpen nearly gave away De La Rosa's 10th win.
Even though his last four innings were when he was the most dominant, his most impressive were the first two. Keep in mind, when De La Rosa was traded to the Rockies, he was thought of as a guy with talent who could never keep his emotions in check. For those keeping score, pitchers like that are usually a disaster at Coors Field. Not De La Rosa. Instead of letting his career spiral out of control, the left-hander with a ton of talent got mentally tough. He figured out how to pitch instead of just throw. Innings like the first two would have unraveled early in De La Rosa's career. Now, it is almost expected that he will get even more tough and get a strikeout and a ground ball to get out of the inning. He has been incredibly impressive.
Although, maybe it shouldn't be surprising that De La Rosa isn't getting the credit that he deserves.
Take a look around Coors Field. There are fans wearing Todd Helton jerseys, Troy Tulowitzki jerseys, Carlos Gonzalez jerseys, and nearly every other Rockies player who has been with the team for any given amount of time, including Jordan Pacheco and Jason Giambi. However, you won't find a jersey that says De La Rosa across the back of it.
Incredibly, despite notching 49 wins in his Rockies career, there isn't a single De La Rosa jersey for sale in the Rockies team store at Coors Field, or any of the front range dugout stores, all of which are owned by the team. The mystery as to why the Rockies have never produced a jersey for fans to purchase makes absolutely no sense. At this point, it would be difficult to argue that he hasn't been one of the best five Rockies starting pitchers in their history. Yet, no jerseys are available.
Despite the Rockies decision not to market him as the star that he has become, the numbers speak for themselves. While the front office talks about how difficult it is to pitch at Coors Field, De La Rosa has posted a 2.97 ERA overall in 2013 and has consistently improved since he arrived, allowing for his three 2012 starts while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
More impressive for De La Rosa, he isn't pulling off cheap wins. He isn't picking up the W when the offense scores 10 and he gives up five or six runs. He has given up more than three runs in a game only three times in 2013, and has given up two or less runs in 13 of his 21 starts in 2013. In 14 of his starts, the Rockies have score four or less runs.
Those numbers suggest one thing, De La Rosa has been nothing short of phenomenal. Frankly, he is having one of the best seasons in the National League. He is doing it while pitching half of his games at Coors Field. The sad part is, the Rockies offense is blowing a season that doesn't come around all that often.
What De La Rosa provides is hope. The lefty has become a guy who is so dependable, it feels like the Rockies have a chance to win every time he takes the mound. He gets out of trouble consistently. He gets outs and limits damage. If the Rockies were hitting the way they are capable of hitting, De La Rosa would be sitting at around 14 wins, the team would be closer to contention, and keeping De La Rosa's success a secret might be more difficult than the Rockies have shown it to be.
If the Rockies finish in the neighborhood of .500, they have De La Rosa to thank. He has been phenomenal. He deserves more credit than he is getting.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"