After an offseason when the 91-loss Rockies stayed mostly silent due to financial constraints, Colorado entered 2020 with low expectations from the national media. The Rockies nonetheless jumped out to an 11-3 start, forcing consideration of Colorado as a potential playoff contender. The bottom fell out before long, however, as the Rockies turned in a minus-68 run differential and fell toward the bottom of the National League. After four straight losses, they’re now 23-29 and three games out of a playoff spot.
Making matters worse, star third baseman Nolan Arenado recently underwent tests on his sore left shoulder, and it’s possible the Rox will be without their superstar for the remaining eight games, per Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The injury to the A/C joint of his left shoulder has affected him all season long, perhaps helping contribute to a substandard (for him) .253/.303/.434 slash line with eight home runs over 201 plate appearances. 1.4 rWAR over 48-games is nothing to sneeze at – it still extrapolates out to 4.7 rWAR over 162.
Just two years into Arenado's eight-year, $260 million deal, there’s more uncertainty than ever about his future in Colorado. His priority has been clear: he wants to play for a contender. Per Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, when questioned about whether making the playoffs this season would serve as proof of the Rockies being on the right track, he answered, “No question for me. Eight teams (out of 15) make the playoffs, and if we’re not one of those eight teams, that’s not a very good sign.” The Rockies were already in a tough place payroll-wise, and after losing so much expected revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are likely entering an even harsher financial climate. Paired with the opt-out Arenado holds following the 2021 season, a legitimate case can be made for the wisdom – or even necessity – of a trade.
The Rockies' playoff hopes aren’t dead yet, however. Four games at San Francisco and four more at Arizona are winnable games to round out the season. Still, second place in the West is well out of reach, leaving the Rockies to compete for one of two wild-card spots in a battle royal of contenders that includes two of the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers, two of the Phillies, Marlins and Mets, and of course, the Giants. Two of those seven clubs will make the playoffs via the second-place slot in their divisions, leaving five teams the Rockies need to leapfrog in the final week of games in order to reach postseason play. A sweep of the Giants would put the Rockies a game ahead of San Francisco, but that’s a lot to expect from a team with a .316 winning percentage over its last 38 games.