Can Rockies Overcome That Empty Feeling at Coors Field?
The COVID-shortened Major League Baseball season took a quick u-turn on the Rockies.
Sixteen days into the season, the Rockies were riding high, having won 11 of 14 games.
And then. ...
Well, the Rockies were off on Thursday, giving them a chance to relax and regroup in advance of a nine-game homestand that opens with a three-game visit by the Los Angeles Angels this weekend.
After winning 11 of their first 14 games this season, the Rockies have won only nine of their last 29. They have fallen out of the NL list of the eight teams that would advance to the post-season if it had begun on Thursday.
And the final 17 days -- and final 17 games -- promise to be a challenge based off the way things have gone for the Rockies lately.
The Rockies upcoming nine-game homestand will be their final regular-season appearances at home this year, and they have to win six of those nine games to just finish .500 at Coors Field.
Their worst home-field winning percentage in a season in which they advanced to the post-season is .568 back in 2017.
That won't be easy. Yes, the Angels are an afterthought in the AL West, but after the Angels visit Coors Field this weekend, the Rockies have a two-game series on tap with an Oakland team that at 26-15 is the No. 2 seed right now in the American League. And then the Dodgers, whose .727 winning percentage is the best in baseball, will visit next Thursday for a four-game visit.
The Rockies can put any thoughts of winning the NL West to rest. Consider if the Rockies were to put together a 17-game winning streak to wrap up the season, the Dodgers would still win the division if they only went 5-12 the rest of the way.
Here's the deal, the Rockies have to look at either claiming the NL West No. 2 position -- which would mean overtaking the Padres, who at 28-17 are 7 games ahead of the Rockies, who are 20-23 -- or one of the final two spots, which currently belong to the Giants and Marlins.
The Rockies don't play the Marlins, but there is a reality check awaiting Miami after having the opening days of the season put on hold because of a COVID outbreak on the team. The Marlins have three doubleheaders remaining, including Saturday and Monday, which are a part of seven-game series against the Phillies, who are currently the No. 5 team in the NL eight-team post-season alignment.
The Marlins also have four games remaining with the Blue Jays, the No. 5 seed in the AL, and three at the Rays, who are the No. 1 seed in the AL.
The Rockies do have a four-game series looming in San Francisco, which will be critical for them if they hope to overtake the Giants. The Giants also have seven games remaining with the Padres (three at home and four in San Diego) and three games at the A's ballpark.
St. Louis, currently sitting No. 6 in the NL, does not have any games remaining against a team with a winning record, but they have five doubleheaders -- Friday and Sunday against the Tigers, Monday and Wednesday at Milwaukee, Sept. 18 against the Pirates, and Sept. 25 against the Brewers at Busch Stadium.
The Rockies offense has been inconsistent, but the pitching staff has unraveled in recent weeks. Their current 7.24 team ERA would be the highest in franchise history, and 2.27 points higher than the 1995 team, which claimed the NL Wild-Card in the first year of Coors Field and had a 4.97 ERA pre-humidor. That's the 12th lowest ERA in franchise history, and the highest of any of the five teams to advance the post-season.
The other reason for concern for the Rockies is they have never advanced to the post-season with a winning percentage at Coors Field below .568. right now? The Rockies head into the weekend with a .429 winning percentage at home, lower than the Rockies have ever compiled in the first 25 years of the franchise's existence.
And it's well below the level the Rockies have reached at Coors Field in their five post-season appearances.