Before this season started…
…What if I told you Jeff Francis would be the starting pitcher for game 162 this season?
Scenario 1: Francis, who started the season in the Cincinnati Reds’ minor leagues, burst on the scene for his new team and took the National League Central by storm. As a surprise stud and suddenly a prized commodity as the trade deadline approaches, the disappointing Reds trade him to the Rockies in a blockbuster deal that includes a tasty package of prospects. The Rockies believe he is the final piece in the puzzle, bring him back to his original franchise, and send him to the mound for game 162 with a wild card spot locked up and hoping to steal the division from the San Francisco Giants.
Scenario 2: The Rockies, truly desperate for starting pitching and on the brink of losing their pitching coach Bob Apodaca, add Francis on a low risk contract in hopes that he can revive his dying career after opting out of his minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He pitches respectably and with guts in a difficult situation, lasting the rest of the season and starting the final game of the worst season in franchise history. He may or may not return to the team as a free agent.
…What if I told you Wilin Rosario would be the cleanup hitter for game 162 this season?
Scenario 1: Enjoying an extraordinary breakout season, Rosario runs away with the Rookie of the Year award despite the more-hyped seasons of Bryce Harper, Todd Frazier, and even Wade Miley. His home/road splits are not exaggerated enough to deter even the most skeptical national voters, and he has been so good that the Rockies have no choice but to bat him cleanup in an even deeper lineup than the team originally thought they had.
Scenario 2: Rosario enjoys a breakout season on an otherwise bleak team, cracking 28 home runs, a franchise record for rookies. He also has some bumps in the road, especially defensively, which ultimately remove him from any serious Rookie of the Year consideration. Still the future is bright for the catcher of the future, even if he is batting cleanup by default for lack of a better option.
Scenario 1: The Rockies cruise to their first ever NL West title, shocking the baseball world as they enjoy the best record in their history and in all of baseball. As such, there is no need to play the starters on the final day of the season as they rest and wait for the winner of the one game Wild Card playoff.
Scenario 2: Battered and bad, the Rockies have the worst record in franchise history and can only point to the fact that they narrowly avoided 100 losses as an accomplishment in the final weeks of the season. All of their big name players are hurt, forcing them to turn to the likes of Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Brown, and Jonathan Herrera to bring this season to its merciful end.
It was going to take a drastically unexpected turn of events for any of these facts to be true on the final day of this season. That all of them were turns for the worse goes a long way towards explaining how bad this team is.