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Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu, and pitching continue to propel Rockies closer to .500

The Rockies have now won seven of their last eight games

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We have lots of links today, so let's dive right in.

Arenado powering Rockies to new heights - Thomas Harding /

Nolan Arenado leads the Rockies in WAR so far this season, and a major reason for that is the last piece of his game blossoming. When he was in the minors, Arenado's rank as an elite prospect was all about his bat. What he's doing now with his glove almost didn't seem within the range of plausible career outcomes.

In any case, Arenado's really started to hit this season, and hit with authority. His .563 slugging percentage ranks sixth in the National League behind only Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Todd Frazier, Adrian Gonzalez, and Anthony Rizzo - And as Harding mentions in the link, he's done most of his damage out on the road, meaning that he could very easily end up with over 30 home runs this season, especially since his on pace for close to 40 right now.

If Tulo can get going, the Rockies will lap the field in race for the best left side of the infield in baseball this season.

Home Runs, Rusin pace Rockies to sweep - Thomas Hardin & Nick Suss /

The Rockies got something yesterday that any team riding a hot stretch of baseball needs; production from unexpected places. Half their offense came from DJ LeMahieu, who had three hits and a home run, but even more unexpected than that was the 4.2 innings of scoreless relief work they got from Chris Rusin who had to take over for Jordan Lyles after he got just four outs.

This is the second outing in a row the Rockies have gotten a shot in the arm from Rusin, who also pitched great against the Reds. I doubt it will continue as the Phillies fielded a below average lineup full of lefties designed to face Jordan Lyles in that game (it's probably the softest spot he'll ever be put in during an MLB game), but Rusin got the job done and saved the hot streak nonetheless.

Lyles exits in second inning after re-injuring toe - Thomas Harding /

It's not all good news for the Rockies. Jordan Lyles is almost certainly going to the DL after having to leave his second straight start with an injured toe. When Lyles can't press down on that toe with full force - and he can't right now - his mechanics go out of whack leaving his sinker up in the zone, which major league hitters will assail like wild animals.

If Lyles does land on the DL, you're probably looking at a new rotation of Kyle Kendrick, Jorge De La Rosa (assuming his sliced finger is fully healed), Chad Bettis, Eddie Butler, and David Hale. The club can also work this group into the current schedule without having to use another starter for the double header Tuesday.

Kendrick will start Monday,  De La Rosa (again, assuming he's ready to go this time) will start Tuesday, Hale can start on normal rest in the other Tuesday games assuming he's called up when Lyles hits the DL, and Chad Bettis can start on normal rest Wednesday. After that, there's an off day on Thursday allowing everybody to catch their breath and cycle out on at least four days rest.

Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez struggling to hit for the Rockies - Nick Groke / Denver Post

What's interesting about the Rockies recent hot streak is that it's almost entirely due to the pitching. The Rockies haven't allowed more than four runs in any of their last eight games, and while some Rockies like Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu are having solid offensive seasons at the plate, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez haven't provided the team with much of anything so far (sans Tulo's monster game where went deep twice and provided all the offense the Rockies got with their first 26 outs on Friday).

Both superstars talked at length about their struggles, and provide some very candid quotes. It's worth a click.

2015 Mock Draft Results - John Sickels / Minor League Ball

The draft is one week from today, so this is getting pretty serious now. In this mock draft, the Rockies grab Dansby Swanson, Kyle Funkhouser, Dakota Chalmers, and Cody Ponce with their first four picks (all in the top 44 selections). If the Rockies do draft Swanson, it will be slightly amusing since they've already drafted him once before in the 38th round of the 2012 draft. He did not sign.

From a personal preference, I'd like to see the Rockies end up with either Brendan Rogers, Swanson, or Carson Fulmer with their No. 3 overall selection. I think those guys represent the best combination of highest reward and lowest risk, if there even is such a thing in this exercise. If the Rockies feel the same way, one of these players will be a part of the organization very soon as the team's depth chart doesn't need to go any deeper than this for that first selection.

Rockies Starting Pitching Improving - Adam Peterson / Rockies Zingers

Adam goes deeper into the recent upswing we've seen from the pitching staff and shows how it's been the driving force of the hot streak. It will be interesting to see if the Rockies hold this together as the schedule starts becoming Coors heavy over the next few weeks.

Ben Paulsen is forcing the Rockies hand at first base - Bobby DeMuro / RoxPile

This is becoming a very interesting situation. If Paulsen keeps hitting all the way to the point where Morneau is ready to come back, the Rockies are going to have a very fun problem on their hands.