Colorado's Brett Anderson was supposed to be a key member of a re-built rotation before going down after only three starts.
Now he's returning earlier than expected with the Rockies feeling a sense of urgency heading into the All-Star break.
After having its first winning streak in four weeks snapped, injury-ravaged Colorado will try to bounce back as Anderson takes the mound Sunday against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
Anderson (0-2, 3.60 ERA), acquired from Oakland in December, hoped to revitalize his career with the Rockies (40-54) after battling multiple injuries in his years with the Athletics.
Those plans, however, were put on hold April 12 when the left-hander suffered a broken index finger during an at-bat against San Francisco. He was originally slated for three rehab starts before coming off the 60-day disabled list, but the Rockies felt confident about moving up his timetable following two strong outings.
Now Anderson is expected to work on a pitch count as he tries to help a banged-up Colorado rotation that has started 13 pitchers and posted a 7.01 ERA in the last 23 games.
Tyler Matzek surrendered four runs over six innings in Saturday's 9-3 loss to the AL Central-worst Twins that ended a three-game win streak - the Rockies' only run of consecutive victories since winning five in a row June 11-15. They've lost 19 of 25.
"The guys understand where we are, and they understand we have to win now," manager Walt Weiss told MLB's official website. "We're not concerned about what anyone else is doing."
While they're only a half-game ahead of Arizona for the NL's worst record, the Rockies have an opportunity to notch their second straight series win heading into the break.
Anderson has gone 2-3 with a 2.88 ERA in five career starts versus Minnesota (43-50), but he allowed two runs and five hits in 3 1-3 innings in two relief appearances last season.
Oswaldo Arcia, who went 2 for 4 on Saturday, homered the only time he's faced Anderson. Kendrys Morales is 1 for 8 against him, though he has four doubles and seven RBIs over his last five games.
Eduardo Escobar went 2 for 5 with a home run Saturday to help the Twins win for the fourth time in five games.
Minnesota starters have one of the worst ERAs in the majors at 4.82, but they've turned things around with a 2.29 mark over the first six on this seven-game trip.
Phil Hughes (9-5, 3.70) will try to continue that trend after he scattered eight hits over 7 1-3 innings in Tuesday's 2-0 win at Seattle. The right-hander had been 1-2 with an 8.05 ERA over his previous three starts.
Hughes is 6-2 with a 2.29 ERA in nine road outings on the season, though he's never pitched in the thin air at Coors Field.
Former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has two hits - both home runs - in 16 career at-bats when facing Hughes.
Charlie Blackmon continued his outstanding play at Coors with five singles Saturday. The leadoff man is 11 for 17 over his last four games - all at home - leaving him with a .357 average there this season.
"Good to see Charlie rolling again," Weiss said.