August is just around the corner. That means the Colorado Rockies are wrapping up a stretch of games against the Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers, three teams that are competing for the league’s worst record. I stated earlier that this stretch of games to end July would be very telling. We’d learn a lot about the Blake Street Bombers. More importantly, there was the golden opportunity to solidify themselves in the hunt for the NL West. Today’s rubber game against Milwaukee had the potential to mean a lot more than it does now.
Colorado has gone 5-5 in their last ten, surrendered three of four games to the Miami Marlins, and could potentially drop a series to the Brewers today; a Brewers team that is in the middle of a horrific season that has recently been compounded by a dark cloud that is BioGenesis. The Rockies limped into the All-Star break nursing injuries and searching for reliable pitching. Nearly two weeks later, they find themselves further from first place in the division.
The offense, which spent the first half of the season carrying the Rockies, has stumbled. With this recent lack of production, Colorado has watched as the red hot LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks have left the rest of the NL West behind. Many think a six game deficit heading into August isn’t the worst place to be. After all, this is baseball, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, something unimaginable happens. Erasing a six game deficit isn’t unimaginable. However, these Colorado Rockies are not the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. They aren’t the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. They aren’t the Seattle Mariners of 1995. Nor are they the same Rockies of 2007.
To refresh memory, the 2011 Cardinals stole the Wild Card from Atlanta on the last day of the season. The 2011 Rays capitalized on the epic collapse of the Red Sox and erased a nine game deficit with a month left in the season to get into the playoffs. In 1995, the Seattle Mariners spent the majority of their season trailing the then California Angels. Their deficit reached as many as 13 games; far more than the six that Colorado faces now. The Mariners would make a comeback, force a play-in game, and beat the Angels to earn a trip to the postseason. And who can forget the 2007 Rockies, who won 21 of 22 in September, clinched the Wild Card on a play-in game of their own and charged to a National League Championship and a trip to the World Series.
When reminiscing on these amazing comebacks, one would be hard pressed to count the Rockies out. I am not one to say never or impossible. But the Rockies lack some of the very things that are necessary to climb back up the division. First and foremost, to be a playoff team, every manager will tell you, you have to win the games you’re supposed to. For example, a series against the lowly Miami Marlins for a playoff team means you win the series, or at worst split it. Colorado dropped three of four.
You also need a dominant pitcher that goes out every five days and is a lock to win your team a ballgame. The 2011 Cardinals had it. The 2011 Rays had it. This year’s Rockies do not. To help catch your break, you also need a team to stumble. For the 2011 Cardinals, it was Atlanta who blew an 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card in September. For Tampa Bay, it was the Red Sox chicken and beer implosion that cost them their nine game lead in the Wild Card and paved the way for Tampa’s improbable comeback. In the NL West, the LA Dodgers have come charging out of the All-Star Break and have not looked back since. With August upon us, the Dodgers only real threat remains the D’Backs. Barring one of the aforementioned monumental collapses, Colorado is watching its playoff hopes ride off into the distance.
Augusts’ schedule offers little relief for the Rox. They’ll face Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. For these teams, their series against the Rockies will be one of those, “win the games you’re supposed to” deals; and playoff teams win those series. It’s only six games and we’ve got two months of baseball left. Many would hesitate to count Colorado out so early. I am getting close. It wasn’t long ago I dubbed the Rockies a potential playoff Cinderella. Heading in to the All-Star break, Colorado had nearly a 35% of making the playoffs. They were only three games out of first and were doing so without Tulo. As of today, that chance is 7.4%. Like I said, how the Rockies finished the month of July would be very telling.