Over the course of a 162-game baseball schedule, baseball fans know that a division title or postseason berth is certainly not secured in the season’s first week. However, for the Colorado Rockies, 2020’s first six games will be critical for a team trying to return to respectability.
With March 26 being the earliest Opening Day in Major League Baseball history, the Colorado Rockies will find themselves in California for the last six days of March, which are also the first six days of the 2020 baseball season. After four games against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, the Rockies will make the short jaunt north to Los Angeles for three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Those are seven games overall, but by the time the seventh hits on April Fool’s Day at Dodger Stadium, Rockies fans may have a feel for what this season may hold.
I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “It’s six games. Relax.” OK, let’s expand it out to the first 15 games of the season over the last decade. How about that?
2019 — 3-12
2018 — 8-7
2017 — 10-5
2016 — 8-7
2015 — 8-7
2014 — 7-8
2013 — 11-4
2012 — 8-7
2011 — 12-3
2010 — 7-8
There are certainly some anomalies in here, including last season’s 3-12 mark when the Rockies were expected by many to once again compete for a spot in the postseason but fell flat out of the gate.
Did the fast starts of 2011 or 2013 equate into anything for the Rockies? No. The team finished 73-89 in 2011 and 74-88 two years later. However, a fast start (meaning .500 or better) this season for Colorado would not only mean that the Rockies survived a tough opening six games in March against a Padres team that is expected to be one of the most improved in the National League as well as a Dodgers team that is once again the favorite to win the division.
Last season’s 3-12 start put the Rockies behind the proverbial 8-ball for the rest of the year and, despite eventually getting six games over .500 in June, made it a pressure-filled opening few weeks with plenty of questions to be answered. Knowing the Nolan Arenado trade rumors will once again fire up the moment the Rockies struggle in any way, starting strong is perhaps more critical to the team’s mentality than in any year in recent history.
A winning record in March would also mean that the Rockies found some good news in the pitching departments. Playing in pitcher-friendly Petco and Chavez Ravine, Colorado’s rotation and bullpen will have to perform for Colorado to be able to walk away with wins.
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There is something to be said for a team playing with confidence, and the Rockies have the chance to gain some confidence by showing quickly that 2019 was a fluke with a strong start in 2020. After all, it’s mostly the same team taking the field for the Rockies this season as last year, right?
There’s also the other side of the coin. A team that finished 20 games below .500 last season and didn’t sign anyone to a Major League contract (as of this writing) and starts the 2020 campaign off with a scuffle will ignite the “I told you so” crowd readying their pitchforks and torches for the Rockies front office. And yes, those Arenado rumors will quickly bubble back to the top.
Six games may not win a title, but six games can certainly make a difference in the mindset of a fanbase that enters this season upset and somewhat apathetic. Rockies fans need something good to happen early, and March gives that opportunity.
Six games. In the division. On the road. The Rockies have a tough and important task waiting for them on a number of levels in March.