- The Rockies are one of the hottest teams in baseball, but they face a winner-take-all game tonight. Here's what you need to know about manager Bud Black's team.
SI is previewing every playoff team before the commencement of the 2018 postseason. Now up: The Colorado Rockies.
At 91–72 the Colorado Rockies have reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history and fifth time in 26 seasons of existence. Colorado got here thanks to two MVP candidates (Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story), a legit Cy Young contender (Kyle Freeland) and a bullpen that was phenomenal in the final month of the season (2.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP).
But let’s be honest: you haven’t watched many Rockies games this season. They have a lot of odd start times (8:10 and 8:40 p.m. ET), play several of their games against clubs with little to no national presence (sorry, Diamondbacks and Padres), and well, it’s not exactly a club with a rich history. So here’s what you need to know before you tune in to the latest edition of Rocktober.
Case for: They're one of the hottest team in baseball right now
Colorado has won nine of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 73–29 during that run. They were left for dead after being swept by the Dodgers in Los Angeles from Sep. 17-19, only to come roaring back to force Game 163 on Monday. And if you go all the way back to the morning of June 28, the Rockies were 39-42 and eight games behind in the NL West. The club played at a .634 clip the rest of the way (52–30) to reach the postseason. What happened the last time the Rockies went on a similar run? They began the playoffs 8-0 and didn’t lose again until reaching the 2007 World Series.
Case against: They give up early leads too often
Among the 10 playoff clubs, Colorado has the worst ERA and slugging percentage against in the first two innings of a game at 5.02 and .460, respectively. In the constantly high-leverage, heavily-managed, hard-throwing bullpen-controlled atmosphere of October you cannot afford to fall behind early.
X-Factor: Adam Ottavino
Ottavino has quietly become one of the best relievers in all of baseball over the last few seasons. In 2018 he set career-best marks in ERA (2.43), K/9 (12.98) and bWAR (2.7). Expect manager Bud Black to use him often for as long as the Rockies remain alive. And how could he not, just look at how terrifying his slider can be.
Why you should root for them: Dingers
As in, lots of them (third-best in the NL with 210). They have the NL home run leader in third baseman Nolan Arenado with 38, as well as 37 round-trippers from shortstop Trevor Story, including this three-homer barrage from a few weeks ago:
Perhaps the best leadoff hitter in the majors, Charlie Blackmon, launched 29 long balls this year. Star-in-the-making David Dahl had nine four-baggers in the final month of the season. You even have the likes of Carlos Gonzalez (16) and Ian Desmond (22), who despite falling off a bit from their prime can still mash when needed.
And don’t sleep on the best Dinger of them all: the lovable, purple dinosaur parading around Denver 81 games a year. (Unlike a better-known, fellow purple dinosaur from the 90s, this one will not scare your children.)