The Colorado Rockies had not signed a free agent starting pitcher to a multi-year deal since that ill-fated Mike Hampton/Denny Neagle off-season. In December 2010, they broke the mold to bring own of their own back into the fold, inking Jorge de la Rosa to a creative 2-year $21 million contract with a 2013 player option and 2013 club option.
The Mexican lefty was intended to be a scary tag team with Ubaldo Jimenez at the top of the rotation. Neither leg of that duo stood up to that plan. While Ubaldo Jimenez' downturn got as much ink as his 2010 breakout, Jorge de la Rosa's injury was relatively easily forgotten, especially considering the effectiveness de la Rosa showed beforehand.
On May 18, the Rockies played the mighty Phillies at Citizen's Bank Park. Colorado had swept a two game series against the Giants at Coors Field to bail water out of the sinking ship that had gone 2-8 in their previous ten games. Despite abysmal career statistics against the Phillies in his career, de la Rosa was a hero, turning in an eight inning complete game, allowing just one earned run. The Rockies lost that game, and I felt bad for Jorge.
Not nearly as bad as I felt after his next start. On May 24, de la Rosa faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of a double-header. Colorado needed a deep start from de la Rosa, and there was little doubt he would come through. Yet de la Rosa was removed from the game after just twelve batters - not from ineffectiveness, but from concern about his elbow.
By the time the night-cap of the doubleheader, the Rockies announced de la Rosa had suffered a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the rest of the season.
At the time of the injury, de la Rosa was performing better than he had in his entire career. A career-best walk rate. A career-best ERA, FIP, home run rate. He was on pace for a 4.6 fWAR / 5.3 rWAR season.
|2011 - Jorge de la Rosa||5-2||10||1.4||1.6||7.93||3.36||0.61||59||48||25||23||4||22||52||3.51||1.19|
Grade - Incomplete
Last year, readers demanded injury-shortened seasons be given an incomplete grade, so there you go. In reality, his performance-based numbers dictate a good solid A for a #2 starter.
Due to the Tommy John surgery, de la Rosa is out until at least the end of May. Troy Renck's reports on his recovery have not wavered, suggesting the Rockies' hurler is on schedule if not slightly ahead of schedule. It should be noted that while de la Rosa may return to the mound, even at Coors Field by June 1, he probably cannot be counted on to return to his 2011 form immediately. While success rates have increased in recent years, most pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery still have issues with accuracy when they return to the mound.