|Jorge De La Rosa has the quietest 16-win season in baseball history.|
On Wednesday night in Denver, Jorge De La Rosa continued his impressive, but extremely quiet season. The left-hander picked up his league-leading 16th win of the year, carving apart a Dodgers lineup that threatened, but couldn't get De La Rosa to break.
In what has become expected from the Rockies ace, De La Rosa wiggled out of trouble in the 6th inning. With the bases loaded and no one out, the Dodgers threatened to erase the Rockies early lead. Flashback five years ago and this same situation might have done De La Rosa in. Today a situation like De La Rosa faced barely raises the blood pressure of the hardcore Rockies fan. Instead of wondering how many runs the opposition will score, the thought is about which new way the lefty will invent to wiggle off the hook.
That is exactly what happened, as De La Rosa got Scott Van Slyke to ground into a double play, scoring one run, then getting AJ Ellis to ground back to the mound to end the threat. One run scored, but in that situation, the damage could have been far worse.
The win gives De La Rosa 35 in his career at Coors Field. That ties him with Aaron Cook for the most ever at the hitter's haven. When the Rockies acquired him from the Royals for Ramon Ramirez, not one person was thinking that he would eventually be the all-time wins leader at 20th and Blake. When his emotions got the best of him, many didn't think he would last more than a couple of seasons.
There aren't enough words that can be said for what De La Rosa has accomplished. His 16 wins ties a career high. He accomplished the feat in 2009 as well, but this season is far more impressive than that one. The 2013 campaign follows a long battle back from Tommy John surgery. Out for almost a year and a half, the lefty once again faced scrutiny. Many didn't believe that he would be any better than a 5th starter.
Even with a few miles per hour off of his fastball, De La Rosa has shown to be even better than he was before the injury. Add on the fact that his thumb has been hurt since June, in fact, hurt so badly that on Monday he underwent an MRI, and there is no reason to think that he shouldn't be receiving far more praise than the national media has been giving him.
The Rockies are lucky to have De La Rosa in the mix for another year for relatively cheap. This team would be crazy not to offer him a 3-year deal in the offseason and try to get him to reproduce the 2013 season with a team closer to contention.
Wednesday night was a great example of the talent that the Rockies have. Something very strange about this Rockies team is that they have plenty of talent. Josh Rutledge, for all intents and purposes was missing in action out of the gate, has returned from Triple-A looking like the guy who got called up in mid-2012, not the guy from earlier in the year.
Despite a costly error in the 7th inning, Rutledge has looked like a new man in his return. He went 3-for-4 at the plate including a triple in the 1st inning that helped the Rockies get on the board. With the emergence of DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado, the Rockies are stacked in the infield. If Troy Tulowitzki can stay healthy, and that is a big "if", the Rockies have one of the best infields, not only at the plate, but in the field, in the National League. Neither LeMahieu, nor Arenado's average is spectacular, but consider that this is both of their first seasons getting chances everyday and it is easy to see that the talent is there.
Maybe the focus should be on the positives, but with the Rockies front office, it is difficult not to see how the positive will be used to spin another bad season into no changes. Will the Rockies try to sell fans on the potential of a team that is much better than a year ago? Will they talk about how the injury to Tulowitzki really devastated them in 2013? Will they say that it was just the Dodgers year? The talent is clearly there. This team has young guys who can play the game and are getting better.
In years past, however, that has almost been a curse. With so much potential, the Rockies have forgotten that there still must be outside moves, and improvements from within to make the team as good as it can be. If Rutledge is proving that he can play, there is no reason to sit on both him and LeMahieu, the Rockies should deal one of them and get something in return. All too often the Rockies have sat on talent and waited until the value is too low.
There are holes to fill. The bullpen could use some reinforcements and the lineup needs another power bat, if not two. The Rockies need to look past the excitement that some of the young players are bringing and make moves to improve the team.
Watching De La Rosa dominate has been fun, but it really is a shame that the Rockies have wasted a great season by not have the talent around him and Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood to be more competitive in the division and wild card races.
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