Even after a nightmare road trip through the Midwest, your Colorado Rockies are firmly in the playoff chase.
But the odds are not in the favor of the Colorado Rockies. Their remaining strength of schedule is the highest in the National League as only two of their last 17 series are against below .500 teams (both versus the pesky San Diego Padres). They have to overcome the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and a host of impressive clubs are battling for the Wild Card.
So, pardon me for being sacrilegious … but I am okay with the Rockies missing the playoffs in 2018.
Obviously, I want the Rockies to play October baseball. I’ll watch every pitch when I can and agonize over MLB Gameday when I cannot (is there anything more tense in digital sports consumption than “in play, run(s)”?). I’ll check the standings too often for sanity’s sake and torture myself doing mental calculations and predictions.
But, most likely, the Rockies are not going to make the playoffs. FanGraphs agrees, giving them a 18 percent chance. And if/when they don’t, 2018 will not have been a “lost season” as many will claim.
How quickly we forget where we spent most of this decade. After reaching the postseason in 2007 and 2009, the Rockies scraped the bottom of the National League barrel from 2011-2016. In 2017, the lone morsel of playoff baseball was one long, agonizing night in Arizona.
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Expectations are high, and that is a good thing. A real fanbase should expect success. But we shouldn’t let lofty expectations warp our perspective.
The 2018 National League is absolutely stacked. Over the deadline, other NL contenders made significant moves to shore up their rosters. The Rockies did painfully little, despite their glaring flaws.
The problems with the bullpen are well known, but offensive struggles rarely give the Rockies bullpen a cushion. The Rockies’ wRC+ — a park-adjusted offensive metric — is 85, good for 26th in all of baseball. And that’s not just Coors bias, as they are slashing .230/.298/.391 on the road for a dismal road wRC+ of 84. While Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado are raking, the rest of the lineup is smoldering.
Even if the Rockies make the playoffs, these flaws could derail a run before you could say “Rocktober.”
So yes, I’ve accepted there might be no block party on Blake Street this year. But part of my acceptance lies in my belief that the Rockies are set up tremendously well for 2019, 2020 and perhaps beyond.
The young rotation of Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Kyle Freeland and German Marquez offers startling potential. In 2018, Rockies starters have an ERA of 4.29 — 11th in all of baseball — and that includes a miserable first-inning ERA of 7.70. Once they fix their first-inning woes (and they will), this is easily the best rotation in franchise history.
DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez will probably be gone next year. However, some Rockies prospects are tantalizingly close to being Major League starters, including golden child Brendan Rodgers. Guys like Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia offer encouraging upside once they get regular playing time.
You can fairly criticize the front office for bad signings and lackluster results at the trade deadline. But as other teams sell the farm for short-term success, the Rockies are equipped to make big moves this offseason.
Yes, the waiting is the hardest part. But the Rockies have gone 25 years without a division title. They’ve made the postseason just four times. We can survive another year.
Editor’s Note: Want to read the opposite sentiment? Click here.