De La Rosa to face Cardinals in likely last start for Rockies

DENVER -- Jorge De La Rosa will make his final start of the season Tuesday and most likely his last one for the Colorado Rockies, when he opposes the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Rockies have been using a six-man rotation. Dropping De La Rosa from the rotation will enable German Marquez, a 21-year-old prospect, to make three starts, the last on the final day of the season.

Marquez has made three relief appearances since being recalled earlier this month, and will make his first major league start Wednesday in the series finale against St. Louis.

In lieu of De La Rosa, the Rockies will end the season with a rotation that includes Jon Gray, 24, Tyler Anderson, 26, Chad Bettis, 26, Tyler Chatwood, 26, and Marquez and might be the Rockies' rotation when they begin the 2017 season.

De La Rosa, 35, is making $12.5 million in the second season of his two-year, $25 million contract and can be a free agent after the season. His start Tuesday will be De La Rosa's 200th with the Rockies.

They acquired De La Rosa from Kansas City on April 30, 2008 for a player to be named or cash. At that point, De La Rosa was more about potential and stuff than consistency and results, but he became not just a reliable starter with the Rockies but a historically good one.

He ranks first in franchise history with 86 wins, first in winning percentage (.589 with an 86-60 record), second in innings (1136 2/3), first in strikeouts (977), second in starts (199) and second in quality starts (102).

De La Rosa also excelled at Coors Field, where he has won more games than any pitcher and has a record of 53-19 (.736).

This season, De La Rosa is 8-8 with a 5.22 ERA. He lost his last outing Sept. 13 at Arizona, where he allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 1/3 innings. De La Rosa has yielded at least five runs in each of his past three outings.

He's 7-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 12 career starts against the Cardinals and 4-0 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts against them at Coors Field.

Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu took over the lead Monday in the National League batting race with a .349 average, one point better than Washington's Daniel Murphy.

LeMahieu struck out 97 times in 2014 and a career-high 107 times when he hit a career-high .301 last year. This season, LeMahieu has a career-high 65 walks and 77 strikeouts, helping him compile a .420 on-base percentage.

"I've been really impressed how he's cut down on his strikeouts," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "That was a conversation we had at the end of the year last year. For the type of hitter he was, he was striking out too much. We didn't have to tell him that. He's a great self-evaluator. He's the one that said it.

"The fact that he's cut his strikeouts way back just confirms that he's got great feel (for the game). He's very adaptable. I think he's a superstar. He doesn't get a lot of play nationally, but I think he's a superstar."

Adam Wainwright, who is 11-9 with a 4.51 ERA, will start Tuesday for the Cardinals. He lost his last start Thursday at San Francisco, allowing nine hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Cardinals fell 6-2.

Wainwright is 8-1 with a 1.31 ERA in 13 games, nine starts, against the Rockies and 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in four games, three starts, at Coors Field.

The Cardinals won their third straight game Monday, beating Colorado 5-3 to pull even with San Francisco in the race for the second wild-card spot. The New York Mets lead the Cardinals and Giants by one game for the first wild-card position.

The Cardinals are in the midst of an 11-day, 10-game trip that began with four games against wild-card rival San Francisco and will conclude with three games against the arch rival Chicago Cubs.

Before Monday's game, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny quickly dismissed the notion that the three-game set with the Rockies might be a trap series.

"Not to us," Matheney said. "They all mean everything. I wouldn't say for a second that we put any more focus on San Francisco or any other series. Every game is the biggest game of the year, and that's just going to continue all the way through."