|Roy Oswalt signed a minor league deal with the Rockies.|
As they begin a homestand against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, the Rockies are in the midst of one of the toughest stretches of the season.
Before flying to Arizona, the Rockies played three against the best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves. From there they went to Phoenix, where they have traditionally struggled, then to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers where they rarely score more than a few runs.
Despite a few tough games in the midst of the stretch so far, the Rockies have held their own. They have stayed in most games and have played well enough to stay in first place in the National League West. They capped the road trip with a rare series win at Dodger Stadium.
The difference for the Rockies has been their ability to bounce back from tough losses. A year ago, a walk off loss usually resulted in several straight bad games in a row. A game in which the offense failed to get the job done sent them into a rut that took several days to recover from.
This Colorado Rockies team seems to fight back from the tough losses. They play the next day as if nothing ever happened. Wednesday night was a prime example of that. After getting owned by Dodgers starter Hyun-jin Ryu, the team bounced back and defeated Josh Beckett the following night.
The Rockies have questions swirling around their starting pitchers. However, those starters have been good enough to keep their team in the game on most nights. Even with Jhoulys Chacin going down with injury, Tyler Chatwood has stepped in and delivered. Jeff Francis remains the question mark in the rotation.
On Thursday, the Rockies addressed that issue by signing veteran Roy Oswalt to a minor league deal. Oswalt dealt with injuries in 2012 and wasn't effective for the Texas Rangers, but if there is any gas left in the tank at all, the Rockies made a great move by picking him up. Five years ago, Oswalt was considered one of the best in the game. He isn't that guy anymore, but he knows how to be an effective pitcher.
With questions around the starting pitchers, the bullpen has been able to make up for any inefficiencies. On the seven-game road trip, the bullpen didn't give up a single run. Having relievers with that ability is huge for a baseball team. The offense can rest assured that they can go out and do their job and the bullpen is dependable enough to get the job done.
How the Rockies handle the Rays, starting with lefty Matt Moore, will be a huge test for them. Following the weekend series, the Rockies see the Yankees, who, despite several injuries, are still finding ways to win games.
In recent years, the Rockies have struggled in the month of May. Many of the fans who are still skeptical are waiting to see how the team fares in May. If this team can avoid a complete tank-job like they have been guilty of the past two seasons, they will be in a good position. If they can finish May with a .500 record in the month, there should be plenty of excitement surrounding the team.
However, it won't be easy for the Rockies with their early schedule. They must continue to enforce the new mentality that Coors Field is an advantage. They must play like they have something to prove. If they can make it through May with a decent performance, this team might actually be able to call themselves contenders.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"