If the Major League Baseball playoffs started today, the Colorado Rockies would be heading to postseason.
It’s only May 20 and the playoffs don’t start now but the Rockies have been a pleasant surprise and sit only three games behind the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West.
On Tuesday night at Coors Field, the Rockies begin a three-game set with the Giants. This series is important on several fronts. The Rockies need to show they can beat a contender with quality pitching. San Francisco is sending out three of their best in Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson. It also has the normal importance of being games inside the division.
If the Rockies can two-of-three or even sweep the Giants they are right in the thick of the National League West race. Rockies lose these games and things can change very quickly.
With how well the Rockies have been playing at home, getting two of the three seems very likely. But Colorado’s work just begins with this series against San Francisco.
After the series with the Giants, the Rockies head out on a nine-game road trip that includes stops in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland. The Braves sit in first place in the National League East and Atlanta has never been nice to Colorado. The Rockies have a record of 25-61 in Atlanta.
The other two spots are winnable games and if the Colorado wants to be considered a contender then it has to perform in Atlanta as well. But both the Phillies and Indians are in last place in their respected divisions. They are teams the Rockies should be able to beat.
Like every season it comes down to if the Rockies can perform on the road. The team’s splits are crazy as usual with the Rockies hitting .352 at Coors Field and only .251 on the road. Colorado has to find ways to win games on the road. All the talent is there in the lineup. Troy Tulowitzki is being heralded as the best player in baseball right now. But his splits are out of this world. His .571 average at Coors is unreal. His .247 away from altitude is average at best.
The Rockies and their fans don’t want to hear the same old story. This team wins 50 games at home but can’t come up with enough wins on the road to say in the race. Colorado doesn’t have to be great on the road but needs to play .500 ball to be taken seriously.
The series with the Giants is huge but following road trip looms larger. If the Rockies can go 5-4 over those nine games they should be in the thick of things. Postseason berths are not won in May and June but in the Rockies’ case they could be lost.