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Ranking the Rockies: No. 4 Jorge De La Rosa remains the rotation's big bright spot

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Jorge De La Rosa was the Colorado Rockies' ace once again in 2015.

Thanks for the consistency, Jorge!
Thanks for the consistency, Jorge!
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Once again, Jorge de La Rosa set the pace for the Colorado Rockies' starting rotation in 2015, even while missing a few weeks at both the beginning and end of the season nicked up with various lower body injuries. But even though the 34-year old threw just 149 innings across 26 starts in 2015—for De La Rosa, a relatively short season compared to the two years immediately previous—the Mexican lefty still was the undeniable ace of the staff.

In those 149 innings, De La Rosa saw his strikeout rate (8.1 per nine innings, 134 total) increase to the highest he's had since 2010. He also had an increased walk rate (3.9 per nine innings) and WHIP (1.356) when compared to 2014 (3.3 and 1.237, respectively), where he posted similar ERA and FIP numbers. The increase in traffic on the bases didn't hurt De La Rosa, though, who finished 2015 with a 4.17 ERA, a 4.19 FIP, and nine wins to lead the staff.

With 78 wins as a member of the Rockies over the past eight seasons, Jorge De La Rosa is the most successful pitcher by that metric in franchise history, and (in my opinion) ought to be considered the best pitcher in Rockies' history well beyond wins and losses.

How he's been able to figure out Coors Field and adjust well enough on the road—where he actually had better numbers in 2015—is, unfortunately for Rockies' fans seeking better pitching across the board, a relatively unique trait to JDLR and surely commendable.

Jorge De La Rosa's 2016 outlook

Well, this is probably going to be the year.

With De La Rosa turning 35 at the start of the season, and his contract up by the end of 2016, the Rockies need to transition away from their ace lefty and consider the future. That means dangling him out there at the trade deadline like they did during the summer of 2014, seeing if there's a suitor who needs a good starting pitcher for a playoff push.

Yes, he's a 10-and-5 guy (ten years of Major League service, with more than five years with his current team), and that means he can veto trades. Perhaps he would veto a trade; he does like Denver, after all, and he's already signed one extension to stay here and pitch in a place that makes him comfortable. There's the fact that De La Rosa is not a true ace really anywhere but Colorado, too, so he's not going to get as much of a return as any other club's number one starter, regardless of destination.

But he is, without a doubt, a bonafide middle-of-the-rotation arm for anybody in baseball right now, and he can help a lot of teams win in 2016, assuming he is roughly as consistent this coming summer as he has been the past three seasons. His name may come up in a lot of trade rumors this summer, and depending on needs around baseball, the Rockies may fetch a decent return on the rental.

For years now, Jorge De La Rosa has far and away been one of my favorite Rockies. In an alternate universe, I'd love for him to stay in the rotation another few years, pitching well and aging gracefully, until other quality big league starters finally are placed him and the Rox enjoy some winning seasons and a playoff appearance or two. It's probably not in the cards for him, though—at least, not in Colorado.

Get your fill of the greatest pitcher in the history of the Colorado Rockies in the first four months of 2016, because he unfortunately may not be long for Denver.