If the Colorado Rockies are truly going to contend for the National League West title in 2018, as well as another postseason berth, the first full month of the season could play a big role in those hopes being fulfilled or dashed.
In April, the Rockies open the season with some of their historically toughest road tests packed into the month. The season begins with back-to-back road challenges against division foes Arizona and San Diego. Other road trips against Washington, Pittsburgh and Miami are included in the month.
Since 2010, the road trips listed above have produced some not-so-glittering records for the Rockies…
At Arizona – 26-49
At Miami/Florida – 8-20
At Pittsburgh – 10-16
At San Diego – 36-39
At Washington – 14-12
That’s a total mark of 94-136 or winning percentage of .408. Colorado manager Bud Black will tell you that past performance does not indicate how the current team will fare. However, no matter who has been at the plate or on the mound for the Rockies when they touch down in any of the destinations listed above, it’s been trouble.
That includes trips east, which saw the Rockies produce these numbers at the plate last season…
2017 at PNC Park … .237/.306/.299 (outscored 13-9 overall, losing two of three)
2017 at Nationals Park … .252/.313/.379 (outscoring the Nationals 15-11, winning two of three)
2017 at Marlins Park … .263/.368/.354 (outscored 15-9 in a three-game sweep)
As a reference point, the Rockies produced a .273/.338/.444 split overall last season, including .248/.312/.390 away from Coors Field.
Last season, in April (26 games), the Rockies produced a slash line of .247/.310/.440. Those were their lowest numbers of any month (except for a .413 slugging percentage posted in June).
Also last season, one of the keys to Colorado’s early surge to the top of the division stands was a 16-10 mark in April. Much of that was thanks to their pitching, which limited opponents to a .254/.323/.419 in 992 plate appearances. Yes, those numbers were higher than Colorado’s numbers at the plate. Yes, the Rockies were actually outscored in the month, 125-119. That included a blistering at home by the Nationals when Washington posted 43 runs in the final three games at Coors Field to win three of four games from the Rockies, who scored 21 runs in those same final three games. Scoring 21 runs will normally win you games, but not when your opponent scores in double digits each outing.
Some of last season’s April success included winning three out of four to open the season in Milwaukee, three of four in their first visit to San Francisco, splitting a two-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and winning two of three at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks.
Can the Rockies repeat those road success numbers in 2018 and get off to a hot start? They will have a chance against a (yet again) rebuilding Padres team and Marlins and Pirates organizations that sent away some of their most notable players in the offseason. Finding success on the road against these teams will be important if the Rockies don’t want to find themselves playing catch-up in September.