DENVER -- Though the Rockies' four-game winning streak entering Friday has been forged against a pair of sub-.500 teams, their 7-of-10 winning stretch was forged against pennant contenders in L.A. and San Francisco.
Veteran Michael Cuddyer sees the success as a sign of a slew of young players maturing in an ideal environment. While there is inherent pressure to perform at the big league level, the stakes are not quite as high with the Rockies 26 games under .500
"Guys are getting comfortable," Cuddyer said. "Guys are starting to feel like they belong in the big leagues, which is half the battle when you're a young player -- to feel like you belong and to lose that sense of awe that you're in the big leagues and facing guys that you've been watching on TV over the last few years."
A young offense fueled by the likes of rookies Josh Rutledge at shortstop, Jordan Pacheco at third, DJ LeMahieu at second and Wilin Rosario behind the plate, along with maturing players like Eric Young Jr., Tyler Colvin and Chris Nelson, has kept pace with Milwaukee and Miami through the four-game winning streak, despite having to score more than six runs to win each of the first three games.
"What [our starting pitchers have] done a much better job of is even if the start is not as far into the game as we'd like it to be, they've been able to minimize damage," Tracy noted. "It's not significant damage. You're not trailing by six runs by the time your eight-hole hitter comes up to take his first at-bat. There's a lot to be said for that."
Chacin back Tuesday, gives Rox rotation 'flexibility'
DENVER -- The Rockies are set to welcome Jhoulys Chacin back to their starting rotation in the first leg of next week's two-city road trip.
"Jhoulys Chacin had a tremendous outing last night," manager Jim Tracy said of the right-hander's Thursday night start in Triple-A Colorado Springs. "He got into the 90-pitch range. He pitched into the eighth inning. He threw the ball extremely well from what I understand, and he came in here today and he has just the normal soreness that you like to hear after a guy goes out and throws like that and throws 90 pitches."
Chacin is tentatively set to pitch Tuesday in New York, rejoining the Rockies and their rotation for the first time since going on the disabled list on May 6 with right shoulder inflammation. Chacin was the Rockies' No. 3 starter coming out of the gate in April, and was 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts.
With Drew Pomeranz plugging back into the rotation after missing a start, that gives the Rockies and their celebrated four-man rotation a string of five pitchers scheduled to start in the next five days, with Jeff Francis on the hill Friday night, followed by Tyler Chatwood on Saturday, Pomeranz on Sunday, Alex White on Monday and Chacin on Tuesday.
"That's where we're at over the course of the next five days, and then actually we'd be back to Francis and Chatwood the two days beyond that," Tracy said.
Whether the Rockies will stick with their four-man rotation or expand to a traditional five-man group remains to be seen, and Tracy was not ready to elaborate with specifics.
"There's flexibility with this in relation to any part of it that you want to talk about," Tracy said. "You have someone that's coming back that hasn't pitched since early May, and you have to be flexible enough to be able to plug this guy in as we go along over the next several days and we'll see where it all goes. We may have to readjust it again. There's a possibility that we will."
One of the issues the Rockies are juggling is limiting Pomeranz's innings in the promising pitcher's rookie campaign. He has had lingering biceps and pectoral soreness through much of the season, and he has skipped his turn in the rotation a couple of times recently.
"We'll see how Drew Pomeranz responds on Sunday," Tracy said.
Cuddyer rests; Fowler, Rutledge back in lineup
DENVER -- Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge were both back in the Rockies' lineup Friday night for the second game in a four-game set with the Marlins, but Michael Cuddyer was given a day of rest after three successive starts, two with Triple-A Colorado Springs and in Thursday's series opener, following his return from the disabled list.
"Michael Cuddyer is not in there today only for the fact that [head athletic trainer [Keith Dugger] felt very strongly that we back off, and when Duggie feels very strongly that we back off, we back off," manager Jim Tracy said. "He's coming off of an oblique injury. [Dugger] doesn't really want to push the envelope coming off an oblique injury, so we're backing off today, and hopefully we'll have him plugged back in there tomorrow."
Cuddyer was 1-for-4 Thursday, sandwiching a game-tying two-run homer in the middle of three strikeouts. He had no tweak to his oblique, and the move is purely precautionary, according to Tracy.
"He's just getting the day off today after three days in a row coming off an oblique injury," Tracy said. "If the guy were to take a swing tonight and reach down and grab his side, I have to lay my head down on the pillow tonight and ask myself the question why I didn't strongly listen to the recommendation of the head trainer who's been doing this for an awfully long period of time and done it about as well as anybody's done it in the business."
Rutledge, who is nursing a sore left quad, pinch-hit in the bottom of the seventh Thursday, lacing a triple off the glove of Giancarlo Stanton to plate the go-ahead run before scoring on a squeeze bunt.
Fowler sat one game with a tight back. Hitting third, he singled to center in his first at-bat Friday, and was thrown out stealing to end the inning.
Before heading to Coors Field on Saturday, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will stop in for lunch with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) at the Denver Chop House at 11:30 a.m. MT.
Guillen will speak at the SABR luncheon, which is open to the public. Among the highlights in his career as a player and manager, Guillen was the 2005 Baseball Writers' Association of America Manager of the Year and winner manager of the World Series that year, as his White Sox swept the Astros.
Tickets are $20 to attend the event, and ordering lunch from the Chop House is optional and extra. The Chop House is located at 1735 19th St., beside the left-field entrance to Coors Field.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.