|Remember Jorge De La Rosa's critics? Good luck finding them now.|
Why bring up Ramirez? When he showed up to spring training out of shape in 2008, Dan O'Dowd shipped him to the Kansas City Royals in a controversial move for the defending National League Champions. Ramirez had shown promise, despite a large ERA, many Rockies fans thought that '08 would be his year.
Suddenly, he was gone, traded for a player to be named later. A month later, the Royals sent the Rockies back that player. His name was Jorge De La Rosa. The move was heavily criticized. De La Rosa was a highly-talented left-handed starter. He threw in the mid-90's and possessed a slider that was as good as anyone in the league. However, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. When something bad happened, instead of minimizing the damage, he would let the inning spiral out of control.
Originally signed by the Milwaukee Brewers, they had given up on him after two seasons. He then spent two years in Kansas City, struggling with the same issues. The complaint from the critics was that if he struggled to control his emotions in Milwaukee and Kansas City, how could he possibly handle the rigors of pitching at Coors Field?
Many of those issues came to the surface with the Rockies in 2008, but in 2009, the lefty turned the corner. Often forgotten about is how De La Rosa was the leader of a pitching staff that lead the Rockies back to the playoffs after a difficult 2008 season. He won 16 games, and could have had 17, but a groin injury in his final start, the day after the Rockies clinched a playoff spot, eliminated him from that game, as well as the playoffs.
Suddenly De La Rosa was a serious force in the Rockies rotation. He was getting better and better, only to live a pitcher's nightmare in May of 2011, when he popped the UCL in his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. After a long recovery process, the critics came back in full force. Many were certain he would never regain his composure.
All De La Rosa has done since returning is prove his doubters wrong. His fastball doesn't have the speed that it once had, but his slider still has an incredible bite, and his change up ducks under the bats of opposing hitters. He hasn't just pitched like the ace of the Rockies, he has pitched like an All-Star. Without the impact of De La Rosa, one can only imagine how bad the season would be for this Rockies team.
On Wednesday, the lefty added another game to his growing stockpile of great games. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked only one, and struck out six. He was helped by an odd double play in the 6th inning in which Yorvit Torrealba was able to chase Jedd Gyorko back to third base, tagging him out, then reacting quickly as Jesus Guzman attempted to reach third base. Torrealba tagged Gyorko, then slid to block third base and tagged out Guzman. The play was as weird as it gets on a baseball field.
The Rockies got another strong performance from rookie Corey Dickerson on the offensive side. He went 3-for-4 with another triple and two doubles. His impressive debut, especially in his second stint with the Rockies, has given him the upper hand in his attempt to earn a spot on the big league roster in 2014.
With Dickerson providing much of the offense, De La Rosa made it easy for the Rockies to pick up the win. It has become expected that De La Rosa will take the pressure off of the offense. If the team can score more than a couple of runs, it seems to always be enough for the Rockies ace.
The way De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood have pitched, there really is no reason the Rockies shouldn't be in a better spot in the standings.
Many Rockies fans might remember Ramon Ramirez, but they certainly don't think about him every fifth day when the guy they got for him takes the mound and dominates the opponent.
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