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Tuesday Rockpile: Backed By Stars, This Team Believes

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Optimism was palpable in the Rockies' clubhouse afterward, not seen at this level since the all-star break.

Before the season, the Rockies were the sexy pick for a division champion, and in some cases, World Series champion. They are now on the periphery of contention (though you couldn't tell by looking at them), but you can't blame these three. Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Gonzalez have taken unforseen leaps to superstardom, and Troy Tulowitzki is hitting like a clean-up hitter despite lingering wrist soreness from his broken hamate bone.

The above quote comes from Troy Renck's game wrap of Ubaldo Jimenez' 18th win yesterday. Even though it took six tries to break the franchise record for wins, he still has five more starts to reach 20.

The season has developed into an unusual situation. Coming into the season, the strength of the Rockies wasn't necessarily starpower but depth and quality of role players. Now, the Rockies are clearly led by their three star players. I don't know what is more surprising: that a potential 20 game winner from a Rockie with a 2.79 ERA and 2.30 ERA is not a consensus Cy Young winner, that Carlos Gonzalez is a handful of home runs from leading all three triple crown categories, or that Troy Tulowitzki has been so incredibly productive (and powerful) immediately after returning from a broken hamate bone.

Tulowitzki was hitting .306 with 34 RBIs in 235 at-bats before his return on July 27. Since then, he has hit .345 with 30 RBIs in 139 at-bats.

Maybe Carlos Gonzalez' hitting barrage in the last month is due to Tulowitzki looming behind him. Maybe Tulowitzki is hitting better since Gonzalez is on base more (his OBP has shot up 40 points since Tulo returned). More likely, they are feeding off each other. That above line comes from an Armstrong/Renck feature on Tulo.

"We feel really comfortable hitting together. We're showing to everybody that we can lift the team." - Carlos Gonzalez, via Dave Krieger

Dave Krieger also profiled the optimism in the clubhouse, intertwining the angle of Ubaldo/Cargo/Tulo, and concluding that believing in the Rockies is not delusional.

"People have doubted us this whole year, they've said we don't have what it takes, and we kind of feed off that. We know we can finish, we've done it in the past, so that's in the back of our minds. And at home, we have this nice stretch here. We can get back in this thing real quick." - Troy Tulowitzki, via Dave Krieger

More links after the jump.

Daley, Francis throw final rehab outings | ColoradoRockies.com: News - Both will return to the Rockies soon, and Francis is open to returning as a reliever, which would relieve the Rockies' rotation cluster.

Payton, Escalona on way to join Rockies | All Things Rockies
Jay Payton's promotion jives with Troy Renck's premonition, as the Rockies chose to reward the grizzled veteran with a good season instead of the 25-year-old home-grown outfielder with better numbers in Cole Garner. Color me confused, as Garner can leave the organization this offseason as a minor league free agent.

Johnny Cueto will indeed pitch for the Reds tonight. For a while, it was probable that Cueto would be late in returning to the country from a funeral, leading to Edinson Volquez pitching instead. But Volquez went ahead with a rehab start last night, and Cueto will be on the mound for Cincy tonight.

Chapman's high-speed pitches leave impression on tulowitzki - The Denver Post - Troy Tulowizki, who was the only batter Chapman retired in four tries, was impressed with the Cuban rookie, though he tagged him as "unpolished." Jim Armstrong has some very fascinating stats regarding CarGo and the Rockies' record against division-leaders in the notes.

Baseball Prospectus | Checking the Numbers: Freaky Concerns - Eric Seidman examines the pitch f/x data on Tim Lincecum at great detail. Generally, his slider has more velocity and break, but he has lost a lot of velocity and break on his fastball, causing him to throw it a lot less. Unless he suddenly adds velocity again, we won't see the previous Cy Young version of The Freak again.

Mat Latos was scratched from his start last night with the flu but will pitch tonight. The Padres won last night anyway with Tim Stauffer "starting." On a normal five-day rotation, Latos would be pushed to pitching Sunday. However, since they are limiting his innings, it is now quite possible the Rockies will see Latos in their series at Coors Field next week.

Top Five Rockies Prospects To Watch In 2011 - SB Nation Denver Russ compiled a list of top prospects to watch as the PuRPs polls closed yesterday. I guarantee that you don't have all five on your list.
Kyle Parker is just one of five Rockies prospects we should follow in 2011.

Rockies Jason Giambi fielding questions in next "Fan Mail" | All Things Rockies If you ever wanted to ask The Giambino a question, here is your chance.

Asheville Scouting Trip 2010 - Purple Row Last but certainly not least, check Muzia's FanPost with pictures and video of all your favorite Asheville Tourists, including overall top prospect Tyler Matzek.