|De La Rosa always gives the Rockies a chance.|
Despite a terrible season from his club, De La Rosa seems to find a way to put his team on the winning side of the ledger far more often than not. It isn't always the most clean outing, and it isn't necessarily the most dazzling every time, but De La Rosa gives his team a chance to win every time he takes the mound.
On a team with 47 wins overall, De La Rosa owns 12 of the victories. He continues to dominate at Coors Field, something that no one else has seemed to figure out since the beautiful park was opened way back in 1995.
Some argue that pitcher's victories are the least telling stat, but there is no denying that even with a somewhat pedestrian ERA of 4.32, that De La Rosa knows how to pitch. He isn't out there hoping for the ball to bounce in the right direction, he is bearing down and getting outs when he needs them.
De La Rosa's strong suit seems to be shutting down would-be big innings. In the 2nd inning on Thursday night, the Rockies lefty looked like he might give up a big inning. Ryan Ludwick hit a double after Devin Mesoraco led off the inning with a walk. With a run already in, no one out and a runner on second base, De La Rosa didn't allow a huge inning. He settled in and got outs. He quickly got two ground ball outs, and nearly got out of the inning, but Zack Cosart drilled a hard ground ball into left field. However, that was all the Reds would get until Ludwick homered on a mistake pitch in the 6th.
In the end, De La Rosa gave up three runs in seven innings of work. He gave up five hits, struck out five and walked just one. That type of line is so typical for De La Rosa. To someone who just looks at the box score, they may simply see a good, but not great outing. To an outsider, his numbers look just better than average.
However, watch the games in which De La Rosa pitches and it is very clear. The team plays differently with him on the mound. They know that they are going to have a shot to win. He may give up a few runs, but it is never going to be enough for the Rockies to be playing catch-up all game long. That type of confidence is something that empowers a baseball team, especially a bad one, to play better. It makes them feel like they have a chance.
The Rockies have very little left to play for. They are a team that is playing for pride, but have very little hope of gaining that back. The season is a joke. The team is miserable. Their superstars are both out for the season and there is no reason to believe that the team will be able to avoid their first-ever 100 loss season. However, watching De La Rosa pitch gives fans one reason to continue watching every fifth day.
The sad reality of De La Rosa, the only pitcher to ever master Coors Field, is that he could easily walk away at season's end. He is a free agent who looks like he will be highly coveted. The 33-year-old still probably has around three years remaining of solid baseball. He still throws in the mid-90's and has a change-up that falls off of the table.
Despite loving pitching in Denver, and loving the organization, the Rockies haven't returned the love. They didn't even approach him in the offseason about returning after 2014. While De La Rosa may give the club the first chance to re-sign him, they will certainly have to pay more for him, after what looks to be another 14-plus win season. Pitchers who have won 14 or more games three times in their career do not come cheap, and De La Rosa would be very wise not to take a hometown discount.
The Rockies, who have many needs to address in the offseason, need to start by giving De La Rosa what he deserves. Pitching is the biggest struggle for this Rockies team and losing De La Rosa certainly wouldn't be a great place to start the offseason. The Rockies need all of the quality arms that they can get. If they have to overpay for De La Rosa, they should absolutely do it.
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