Will Troy Tulowitzki's Rib Injury End Rockies' Chances of Winning NL West?

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJune 13, 2013

June 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) during the game against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Tulowitzki is being put on the shelf, and, as he falls out of the lineup, the Colorado Rockies' hopes of winning the NL West slip away.

After breaking his rib in Thursday's loss, Tulo is officially going to be sidelined for at least a month.

#Rockies #LosRockies SS Troy Tulowitzki confirmed to have broken rib. INF Josh Rutledge likely to be called from @skysox

— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) June 14, 2013

#Rockies #LosRockies expect SS Trot Tulowitzki to miss 4-6 weeks w/ broken rib on right side.

— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) June 14, 2013

As The Denver Post reports, Tulo was injured on a dive for a ground ball.

An MRI Thursday night of Troy Tulowitzki's right side revealed a broken rib, according to two major league sources. Tulowitzki is likely facing a lengthy absence.

Tulowitzki was having difficulty breathing after his injury, pointing to a possible rib or intercostal muscle issue. The two-time All-Star shortstop has been dealing with soreness in the rib area for a few days, but it wasn't serious enough to prevent him from playing.

A broken rib is nothing to mess around with when it comes to baseball, and it can really hurt an elite batter like Tulo.

Because of the torque involved to swing a bat, a serious rib injury could take several weeks to heal before the player is able to play again. Tulowitzki was clearly worried before heading to the hospital, leaving teammates bracing for the worst.

'The ribs have been a lingering problem for him. When he came off the field, it was very evident he was done,' said manager Walt Weiss, admitting he was concerned about a potential extended absence.

The loss of Tulowitzki is a devastating one for the Rockies. He has become more than just a staple of the offense, he has become the best batter in the National League and is/was an early favorite for MVP.

He ranks in the top five in the major batting categories in the NL, ranking second in batting average (.347), third in home runs (16) and third in RBI (52).

Here is a look at Tulo's batting average by pitch location:

Troy Tulowitzki with another HR today for Rockies ...Here's a look at his BA by pitch location this season pic.twitter.com/MFFK94mP34

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 9, 2013

The Rockies were barely hanging on in the NL West race, and it was all thanks to the team's incredible offense. Colorado ranks third in runs, fifth in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage and second in slugging in MLB, but those numbers will likely nosedive with Tulo on the DL.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, the team can't rely on its pitchers to help mitigate the loss of its superstar. The team's top pitcher in just about every category is Jorge De la Rosa, whose 3.49 ERA is less than spectacular.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez are also both day-to-day, as CarGo was hit with a foul ball in Thursday's game.

Now, the Rockies have (likely) fallen from a team contending for a playoff spot to one that is just trying to tread water.

The NL West is very competitive right now, as the Arizona Diamondbacks are overachieving at 37-29, and the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants (34-31) are unlikely to sit behind the Rockies (35-32) for very long.

The Rockies might now be forced to turn to the wild-card spots. However, considering that the three best teams in the NL are all in the Central division, a wild-card spot will not likely be spared for the Rockies.

While it's a bit premature to completely rule the Rockies out, it's going to be an uphill battle for the team, and Rockies fans shouldn't hold their breath.