Monday Rockpile: What we learned in Los Angeles

Stephen Dunn

The Rockies beat the Dodgers in a big early season series in Los Angeles, and with it , we learned quite a bit about this team.

Patrick Saunders leads us off this morning with a trio of articles filled with lessons learned from a big weekend.

First off, Jorge De La Rosa can still get it done. For the first time all season, the lefty pitched in a game where he went more than five innings and the Rockies got the win. This is the type of mental boost the Rockies have been looking for with De La Rosa. We know he's had the stuff to dominate this season, but innings have spiraled out of control on multiple occasions. This however was a great outing against a tough opponent with a series win on the line that the Rockies desperately needed if they wanted to send a message to the alpha dog in the division. De La Rosa is a very mental pitcher, and this is the type of start that could get him on a roll.

Also noted in that piece, Wilin Rosario didn't just sit out because it was Jorge De La Rosa day. The Rockies' backstop may have to sit out a few more games with an injury to his left hand. Fans better hope this isn't anything serious, because a daily dose of Jordan Pacheco behind the plate would wear out its welcome awfully quick.

If you missed yesterday's game, you missed some wizardry in the field from Nolan Arenado. If it wasn't for his glove, there's no way De La Rosa only gives up one run. It wasn't just the most eye popping play of the day he made either where he turned a sure double off the bat of Scott Van Slyke into an out, but also the play he made in the first inning which prevented Puig from reaching on a bunt single and giving Los Angeles first and second with nobody out after the Rockies went 0-3 with runners in scoring position in the first inning. If that out is not recorded, who knows how bad the inning gets - And with De La Rosa, there's a chance he never settles into a groove mentally if the Dodgers put up several runs in the first frame.

In fact, if you want to expend his play back through Friday night, you could even make the argument that the Rockies get swept without his glove, as he made a sensational diving play to prevent two runs from scoring in the Jordan Lyles start on Friday where the Rockies ended up winning 5-4 in 11 innings.

Saunders also puts a bow on the series win here, and touches on a couple of other key items we picked up from this weekend. The most important of which is that this Rockies' team can beat the Dodgers in their house without much help from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, who went a combined 2-26 in the series. Colorado received significant contributions from Jordan Lyles, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Justin Morneau, Jorge De La Rosa, Brandon Barnes, Corey Dickerson and Josh Rutledge.

The second nugget, which Saunders doesn't mention directly but I picked up yesterday, is that Hyun-jin Ryu might not be quite as reliable of a starting pitcher as he appears. In Asia, it's very uncommon for pitchers to start more than once every six or seven days, and when Ryu has this extended rest as a Dodger, he generally comes out and pitches excellent. So far in 20 career starts on five or more days rest, Ryu has pitched to the tune of a 2.21 ERA and has held opponents to a .591 OPS against. However, in the 17 starts he's made on four days rest, he now has a 4.09 ERA with a .722 OPS against.

Last season, the Dodgers went volcanic and were able to rest Ryu down the stretch to keep him in his happy zone, spreading him out enough so he only made 14 starts over the season's finally three months despite never needing to go on the DL. This leads us to several red flags. First, the Dodgers won't be able to do this again this season without putting important games in jeopardy if there's a team threatening to win more than 85 games in the division after the All-Star hiatus. Second, despite the protection late in the season, the early wear and tear and post season schedule still pushed Ryu's final inning total past 200, and this is a man who averaged just 172 innings pitched in his last five years in Korea.

So now he's coming back off a high workload season and the Dodgers have already (with the travel schedule quirks in Australia) used him seven times for 40 innings and we're not even out of April. Knowing how Ryu typically struggles a bit when you throw him out there on shorter rest than the Asia schedule, you have to wonder how effective he'll be in the second half of the 2014 season if the Dodgers continue to lean on him like this and the innings really pile up in back to back seasons. It's something that should be monitored as we head into the summer.

Franklin Morales tries to string together his third straight win tonight in Arizona. His spot on the rotation is still on the line, but he's got an extremely tall order if he's going to beat out Jordan Lyles the way he's been pitching.

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports gives the Rockies an "A" for the week.

Friend and now frequent Purple Row poster Richard Bergstrom of Rockies Zingers gives us a look at the Rockies offense through some graphs.

Around MLB

Jorge De La Rosa wasn't the only starter to put together a fantastic outing yesterday. In fact, compared to some other arms out there, he's day might look mediocre. That's because on Sunday, no fewer than ten pitchers went at least seven innings giving up three hits or less. We really do seem to be heading into a new era of the pitcher.

Jay Jaffe talks about Bryce Harper's latest DL stint, and its connection to the stupidity of the headfirst slide.

Say your Farewell

If you have not yet heard, today is the end of Greg Stanwood's time as a writer at Purple Row. He's still going to keep Rockies Roster going (which is awesome), but his detailed posts and extensive knowledge of the Rockies' system will be deeply missed. Thanks for everything you've provided the community over the years Greg. I owe much of my understanding to the deeper workings of a baseball roster to you and your work.

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