|It's fun to watch Jorge De La Rosa pitch.|
All the Colorado Rockies left-hander does is go out and dominate. However, it seems in every one of his games, something else happens that makes his continued outstanding performance become a subplot.
On Tuesday night it happened again.
With the Rockies up 5-3 in the 7th inning and two men on base, Nolan Arenado made a play to rob Jimmy Rollins of a game-tying double. Arenado ranged to the 3rd base line, snagged the grounder, jumped and threw in time for Todd Helton to be able to tag Rollins on his way to first base. Well, in time for Helton to tag Rollins according to first base umpire Jim Wolf, who is all that matters.
It was the latest in a long string of impressive plays at 3rd base for the rookie Arenado. He has made his rookie season a year full of highlight reel plays at the hot corner. It seems that every week there is another absolute gem that he pulls off. Some nights it is a bare-handed play on a soft hit ball, other nights it is a stabbed liner. Very little gets past the rookie, who has erased any questions as to who win finally be the next in line for the 3rd base position.
The play preserved the win for De La Rosa, it was his 13th in an impressive season after Tommy John surgery. There were questions swirling around the lefty before the season started as to how effective he would be. His rehab took longer than normal, and his three starts in the 2012 season didn't resemble the pitcher that he had become in a Rockies uniform since 2008.
With those questions surrounding him, it seems that De La Rosa simply ignored them and went out and proved all of his doubters wrong. His 13th win came on a night where he once again gave up only two earned runs over 6-1/3 innings.
An amazing stat for De La Rosa, when the Rockies score three or more runs for him in 2013, he is undefeated. That is a testament to how effective he has been.
The real question is how bad would things be if De La Rosa wasn't around? This is a team that was supposed to crush the ball all season long. It was supposed to be a team that overcame bad pitching with great hitting. Instead, it has become quite the opposite. In fact, when the Rockies scored five early runs against the Phillies, it almost seemed like uncharted territory for De La Rosa, since he always seems to be on the mound in a pitcher's duel.
The best thing the Rockies front office has done over the past four years has been to get De La Rosa to sign a very club-friendly deal. The left-hander has a club option for the 2014 season set at $13 million. If the Rockies don't pick up that option, they are absolutely crazy. In fact, while they are picking up that option, they should beg the 32-year-old to sign a three year extension on top of it. He has proven that he is well worth the money, and since he has had success in a Rockies uniform, it might not be a stretch to imagine him wanting to stay.
As for Arenado, the 3rd baseman might not be taking home the Rookie of the Year hardware. He has had great moments at the plate, but not enough to overshadow the two guys getting all of the attention in the National League, Yasiel Puig and Jose Fernandez. Both rookies, ironically from Cuba, have stolen the show. Frankly, what Puig has done for the Dodgers probably makes him a worthy winner.
However, if Arenado doesn't get the consideration for a few Rookie of the Year votes, he should almost certainly take home the consolation prize, a Gold Glove award at 3rd base.
Many of his plays have been breathtaking. Fans of the game for many years are shocked at what he has been able to accomplish. Maybe the most amazing fact about his defense is that when he was in Asheville early in his professional career, the scouts had no doubt about his bat being a good one. However, they were very concerned with his defense. Many who watched him said that his footwork and range were terrible and that if he wanted to play in the big leagues, he would have to move to 1st base.
Sometimes scouts are wrong, but in this case, there were too many of them saying the same things to be wrong. What it means is that Arenado has put in the work to become not only a serviceable 3rd baseman, but instead, a great 3rd baseman, and he has done it in a hurry.
Things may not be great for Rockies fans, and it may feel like the team is a ship in the middle of the sea with no rudder. They may be correct in that. However, both Arenado and De La Rosa have provided some sunshine in a stormy season.
Maybe in his next outing De La Rosa can be the story instead of someone else stealing the spotlight.
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