DENVER -- In many divisions, four games under .500 at the All-Star break would place a team well out of the pennant race.
But in the National League West, the Rockies (46-50) sit just 4 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs and the Rockies are still convinced that a season-changing winning streak is around the corner. Boosting their chances at that kind of run is a lineup that's finally back at full strength after shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and center fielder Dexter Fowler both rejoined the lineup for the final series before the break.
The pieces of one of the NL's most productive offense back in place, right fielder Michael Cuddyer sees no reason why the Rockies can't return to April form, when they started 13-4 and finished five games over .500.
"You saw in the first month of the season when we were full-go and everything was clicking on all cylinders, how we played," Cuddyer said Thursday, before the Rockies -- who open the second half Friday night against the Cubs at Coors Field -- conducted a workout. "So then, obviously, May we ran into some injuries, some trouble and then we were able to weather that storm, now everybody's back."
The more pressing obstacle in the way of a second-half playoff run is a starting rotation with three reliable starters, but two spots with few guarantees. Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio will fill out the rotation for at least the immediate future, and their teammates are confident the rotation will do what's necessary behind a lineup that boasts three All-Stars and calls hitter-friendly Coors Field home.
Nicasio showed promise in his first start with the Rockies in more than two weeks last Friday, surrendering just three hits in seven innings. Pomeranz has not looked big-league ready in three starts, but did develop a slider over the break that he hopes will allow him to become a season-long member of the rotation.
"I think we threw the ball pretty well in the first half. Second half, I don't see why we can't do the same thing," starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. "I think everybody else has kind of gone on their hot streak this year, rattled off 10 in a row, and we haven't done that yet. I think that's just a matter of time before we do that and catch some fire."
With a 10-game homestand beginning Friday, the upcoming stretch could be a key indicator of the Rockies' chances of playing in October. The veteran Cuddyer sees hope in Colorado's ability to rebound from the roughest waters, like a 2-7 road trip near the end of June that pushed them back under .500 for the first time since the season began.
"Every time it looks like our team's going to break, we end up responding, end up bouncing back and playing really well," Cuddyer said. "I think that comes from management, like Walt [Weiss]. Walt never panics, [hitting coach] Dante [Bichette] never panics.
"I think that's been the difference between this year and last year, is when things started to go bad, we pushed up against it and we responded."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less