This could potentially be the final season for Rockies legend Todd Helton.
The Colorado Rockies remain one of the least talked-about but most fascinating teams in Major League Baseball.
Walt Weiss’ squad sits at a mediocre 41-42 record while simultaneously remaining in contention due to an unexceptional NL West.
The Rox are desperately missing the big bat of Troy Tulowitzki, and the front office could be conjuring some trade talk in the coming weeks.
As Major League Baseball approaches the halfway point, this bipolar Rockies team is looking to overcome injury and secure its first playoff berth since 2009.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the remainder of the Rockies’ 2013 season.
Two-time All-Star Troy Tulowitzki is no stranger to injury.
In 2008 the young shortstop tore his left quadriceps tendon and was sidelined for over a month. Since then, Tulowitzki’s career has been defined by outstanding production and constant injury.
The Rockies went the majority of last season without Tulowitzki after he injured his groin. The injury, which was initially only supposed to keep him off the field for eight weeks, ended up taking the rest of the 2013 season to heal.
On June 13, Tulowitzki hit the disabled list once more with a broken rib. The injury is expected to sideline the shortstop for four to six weeks.
While a groin injury is more significant than a rib fracture, Rockies fans would hardly be surprised if Tulo’s ribs take longer than the six weeks originally reported.
Bold Prediction: Tulowitzki’s injury will keep him on the disabled list for the entirety of July.
Even though the Tulo-less Rockies ended with 98 losses last season, the organization thought they found the solution to their perennial second base problem—Josh Rutledge.
So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Rutledge has struggled down the stretch, batting just .222 with six home runs and 15 RBI. The 24-year-old second baseman batted just .152 in June.
As it stands, Tulowitzki’s injury seems to be the only thing keeping Rutledge in Denver. With Jonathan Herrera and DJ LeMahieu hitting well of late, Rutledge is surely headed to Colorado Springs upon Tulo’s activation.
Bold Prediction: Once Tulowitzki is activated from the disabled list, Rutledge will spend the rest of the 2013 season in Triple-A.
This spring was full of trade talk surrounding outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Some reports noted discussions between the Rockies and Indians for a possible Fowler-for-Justin Masterson deal.
While no deal ever materialized, Fowler remains a viable trade candidate, especially with the emergence of prospect Corey Dickerson.
The Rockies need starting pitching. That much is certain.
Scott Feldman, Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Edinson Volquez and Cliff Lee are reportedly available, said ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Bold Prediction: The Rockies will send Fowler and a prospect to the Marlins for Nolasco.
Last Friday, the Rockies finally activated Rafael Betancourt off the disabled list after he suffered a right groin strain. The injury sidelined the Rockies’ closer for just over a month.
During Betancourt’s rehab, reliever Rex Brothers managed 9.2 innings, allowing just four hits and no runs over that stretch.
Statically, Brothers now ranks among Major League Baseball’s best relievers.
Betancourt has saved 11 games for the Rockies this year, posting a 3.05 ERA and 23 strikeouts. On the other hand, Brothers has been masterful in 34.1 innings, administering just two earned runs with 37 strikeouts.
With the game on the line in the ninth, wouldn’t the Rox want Brothers and his lights-out stuff shutting the door?
Bold Prediction: Betancourt isn’t able to mirror his first half and struggles in the second. Brothers takes over the reins as closer sometime this month.
Todd Helton has been virtually silent about whether or not the 2013 season is his last.
In April, Helton announced that he wouldn’t play for any other franchise except the Rockies.
Helton, 39, is batting a dull .241 with six homers and 27 RBI. The veteran first baseman is also in the final year of his three-year, $33.6 million deal.
The contract, in combination with his production and desire to only play for the Rockies, could force Helton into retirement.
Helton has been the face of the Rockies franchise since his rookie year in 1998. He leads the Rox in virtually every offensive category for his career and is a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover and a career .318 hitter.
His legacy will be enshrined in Rockies history and the No. 17 will be the first number retired at Coors Field.
Bold Prediction: Helton does not get re-signed by the Rockies and retires at season’s end.
Few swings have been a sweet as Michael Cuddyer’s this season.
The 34-year-old veteran extended his 26-game hitting streak to 27 last night with a single.
Cuddyer is having the best season of his career, batting a cool .344 with 14 homers and 48 RBI, and is utterly locked in at the dish.
There are 13 games remaining until the All-Star break, and the Rockies’ right fielder needs a hit in all of them for 40.
Bold Prediction: Cuddyer reaches the All-Star break with a 40-game hit streak. He snaps it the first game back against the Cubs on July 19.
Unlike last season’s Bryce Harper and Mike Trout-infused Rookie of the Year voting, this season paints an entirely different picture.
As it stands now, it’s a toss-up.
Since joining the lineup in late April, third baseman Nolan Arenado has strung together a .264 average with seven homers and 24 RBI. He’s been clutch, collecting two walk-off hits in his 59 games.
Corey Dickerson, while joining the Rockies last week, has shown promise as a center fielder and at the dish. Dickerson is 4-for-16 at the plate, all four hits being doubles.
With names like Shelby Miller and Matt Harvey in the mix, winning the Rookie of the Year award is going to prove challenging for Arenado and Dickson. However, a top-five finish for either of these guys is far from impossible.
Bold Prediction: Arenado ends in third and Dickerson in fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Jorge De La Rosa has quietly been one of the Rockies' most productive starting pitchers over the last six seasons.
Through the first half, the 32-year-old southpaw has posted an 8-4 record with a 3.09 ERA and 65 strikeouts. He’s been a major factor in the Rockies remaining in the playoff hunt.
He’s also defied logic by pitching well at Coors Field, posting five wins and a 3.15 ERA.
The big question with De La Rosa is health. He’s battled through injury the last two seasons in spite of pitching well.
If De La Rosa can remain healthy, he has a legitimate shot at a career-high 18 wins this season.
Bold Prediction: De La Rosa wins 18 games.
Over the last few seasons, Carlos Gonzalez has proven to be the most productive and durable players on the Rockies.
He’s also injected his name into the discussion of being one of the best pure hitters in the game. However, in the midst of his impressive 22 home runs lies his strikeout total.
Gonzalez has had trouble hitting the breaking ball this season, striking out an unprecedented 92 times in 355 plate appearances. He’s striking out more than 25 percent of the time.
That being said, he’s making up for it with a big bat and flawless defense.
Cargo is batting .296 with 22 homers and 60 RBI and is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous left-handed bats in baseball.
Bold Prediction: Gonzalez will end the season leading the National League in home runs with 50, but will go on to strike out 200-plus times.
Even with a sub-.500 record, the Rox remain in the playoff conversation in the National League.
Jim Wright has reshaped what was once a dismal rotation, and the Rockies have improved tenfold from last season defensively.
With Tulowitzki hopefully returning from the disabled list in the coming month, the Rockies have the bats, the gloves and yes, even the arms to be considered a potentially dangerous playoff team.
The Rox sit just two games back of a crumbling Arizona Diamondbacks squad in the division with all three teams, San Diego, San Francisco and the Yasiel Puig-infused Dodgers breathing down their necks.
Bold Prediction: All the pieces will come together this month and the Rockies will win the division.