DENVER -- Jorge De La Rosa struggled to pitch consistently this season as a starter, but since his demotion to the bullpen, he's returned to form.
De La Rosa had his best outing of the season in Thursday's 11-5 win over the Pirates, earning the win by pitching four perfect innings -- a career high in relief -- while striking out five on just 47 pitches.
Through six starts, De La Rosa had a 11.41 ERA and a 2.50 WHIP. In three relief outings, the Rockies left-hander has a 1.13 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP.
"He looks like himself again," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's done a really nice job. It's a tough pill to swallow for a guy that's been the best pitcher in franchise history really. He's handled it well, gone back to the drawing board and he's in a good place."
De La Rosa, who leads the franchise in wins and strikeouts, has only made three appearances in the 15 days since taking on the long-relief role, in part to help ease his transition. Coaches are pleased with his progress in making adjustments.
"I got a lot of good feedback from [bullpen coach] Darren Holmes and [pitching coach] Steve Foster about De La's side [sessions], the way he's talking, the way he's operating," Weiss said. "The curveball is back in play. He's got a lot of confidence in it. It was a really big pitch for him today. He's using his fastball more. These are things we've talked about after we took him out of the rotation, and he's embraced it."
De La Rosa, who also picked up an RBI when he dropped down a sac bunt with the bases loaded, has turned his season around, but even with struggles with the team's young rotation -- in which none of the five starters have pitched a full season -- Weiss has no immediate plans to move him back into the rotation.
"There's always a big-picture plan," Weiss said. "It's a matter of when the time is right. Those are conversations we'll continue to have."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.