Monday Rockpile: Old Jorge De La Rosa Makes An Appearance

USA TODAY Sports

Jorge De La Rosa's start Sunday afternoon is easily one of the most important things we've seen so far in the young 2013 Rockies season.

Twelve games into the 2013 season, the Rockies have five regular starters who have already launched at least three home runs and are currently sporting an OPS north of 1.000. (Dexter Fowler (6 HR, 1.112), Wilin Rosario (4 HR, 1.089), Carlos Gonzalez (3 HR, 1.048), Troy Tulowitzki (3 HR, 1.021), and Michael Cuddyer (3 HR,1.010)). However, as much fun as this has been to watch, these sticks are going to cool off eventually, and when that happens the Rockies are going to have to find other ways to win games.

Enter Jorge De La Rosa who first found his niche in Colorado's rotation a couple of months into 2009. He didn't win his first game of that season until June, but once he broke through he piled up 15 more by the end of September and was an enormous part of the Rockies turning a 20-32 start into a franchise best 92-70 record.

He followed that up with a solid 2010 (although he did spend some time on the DL before the All Star Break) when the Rockies had a winning, but ultimately disappointing season, and was pitching brilliantly in May of 2011 when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and needed Tommy John Surgery.

Without De La Rosa, the Rockies closed out the 2011 season with a 49-67 record, and followed that up with the dreadful 98 loss campaign last season. In short, the Rockies really missed their hard throwing lefty.

Yesterday may have been the first real example of how valuable a healthy De La Rosa can be for the Rockies. Instead of the big bats taking center stage like they have for most of the season, Colorado's success instead centered around the pitching of De La Rosa who not only threw up six scoreless frames, but also looked great doing it. Yorvit Torrealba, who caught De La Rosa yesterday proclaimed that #29 is back in this Denver Post article.

"Everything was perfect today. He's got his changeup again. He throws his two-seamer to righties, and it's got some run to it. The slider is back, too. He's like the old De La Rosa."
I'm not ready to buy that claim 100% yet. I want to see a couple of classic De La Rosa performances in Coors against good lineups first, but yesterday's outing was extremely encouraging nonetheless.

* * * * * *
The Rockies are scheduled to begin a ten game home stand tonight against the Mets, but the weather looks absolutely atrocious for baseball in Denver over the next few days. I'm not sure which part of the forecast is more depressing - The snow in the short term, or the low of 16 degrees with wind on Wednesday night. In any case, it's going to be very interesting to see what Major League Baseball does here because the Mets just came from a Winter Wonderland in Minnesota where they lost yesterday's game and they are not scheduled to come back to Colorado again this season after this week. They pretty much have to get at least three of these four games in to avoid a scheduling disaster later this summer.

One possible piece of good news for the Rockies is that Mets star pitcher Matt Harvey is scheduled to pitch the finale of this series as the slate stands right now. I probably wouldn't mind getting just three games of this series in if it somehow ends up meaning that the Rockies miss him.

* * * * * *
Today is Jackie Robinson Day. This is not just an important event for baseball, it's an important event for the nation. It's impossible to underestimate how courageous this man was looking back on his life and the events he endured from an America where things for the most part tend to get better and better. The outcome we see today was far from sketched in stone in the 1940's and we all owe a large Thanks to Jackie and the role he played in carving it out.

There are many, many reasons why baseball is our national pastime, but there may not be a bigger one than Jackie Robinson. In this case, the nation's favorite sport showed the nation itself that it was possible to integrate a full two decades before the heart of the Civil Rights movement. Nowadays, the term hero has been watered down by many sports fans who use it to describe their favorite player like it's nothing, but in Robinson's case, we truly have an American hero that we can all look up to.

Other Jackie Links

Tracy Ringolsby talks about how thankful current manager Dusty Baker is for Robinson's contributions to both the game of baseball and the country as a whole.

Purple Row's own Drew Creasman wrote a nice piece on this subject last week.

Steve Goldman writes about the incredible role Branch Rickey played in bringing Robinson into the game of baseball.

Terry Frei of the Denver Post writes about the new film "42" and gives a positive review.

If you're like me and could read about Jackie Robinson all day, here's a link to SB Nation's "Jackie Robinson Day" page where you can find even more stories.

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