Mark this date on your calendar Rockies fans – July 1, 2019. That’s the date that will seal the deal on whether the Rockies are in or out of the chance to win the National League West this season and possibly even knowing what type of shot they would have at a wild card spot in 2019.
July 1 is an off day, but it will mark almost a month of grueling games inside the NL West for the Rockies. That stretch starts tonight as the team welcomes in the San Diego Padres to Coors Field for a four-game set this weekend. After that, the Rockies will hit the road for nine days to Arizona for three games, to play the Dodgers for three games and finish with the Giants for three games. Then, the Rockies return home for a four-game homestand with the Dodgers before having an off day that Monday.
Of course, all divisional games are vital, especially when you reach the mid to late point of June where you are past the halfway point of the season. But, they are even more important when the NL West is trying to catch up with the Dodgers while trying to pace themselves with the other jam-packed teams in the division.
The Rockies trail the Dodgers right now by 9.5 games, with the Diamondbacks also sitting at 9.5 games back. The Padres and Giants are right on their tail, as well. These next few weeks will either keep the Rockies in the race for the West this summer or sink them entirely. If the Rockies struggle to win games against the Dodgers before the end of the month, Los Angeles could start to pad a lead, depending on what the other teams do. A bad few weeks, or even a bad week, could really put the team’s division winning hopes on ice and possibly even put them right ahead of only the Giants.
On top of the division itself, the wild card is setting up to a tough race as usual, heading into the final few months of the season once July begins. Right now the Rockies are in the thick of things for the two NL wild card spots. However, with outstanding races going on in the NL East between four teams and the NL Central appearing to be a race to the finish again, the Rockies might be frozen out this season, if they have bad stretches. Which is once again another reason why Colorado must play well the rest of June.
So, how many games do the Rockies need to win by July 1 in order to still be in the running of the National League West title and afloat in the wild card race? The easy answer, and what Rockies fans should be optimistically hopeful of, is that the Rockies don’t lose any series the rest of June. But, with team struggles in the past with playing on the West Coast, mixed with just the overall four-team level of competition in the division, this will be very hard to do.
In my mind, the Rockies must win three games or sweep against the Padres this weekend at home. The team must win a total of five games between the Diamondbacks and Giants series. They have to avoid getting swept against the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine by taking at least a game (if they can’t win the series, obviously). Finally, the Rockies may have to win three games again at home, this time to the Dodgers, or they may even have to sweep.
That would make the Rockies 12-5 within a tough 17-game National League stretch with a lot of those games coming on the road. This type of record, or something near that, would give the team a shot to stay in the battle for a division pennant and definitely a seat at the table to try to scratch out a wild card spot.
The good news for the Rockies themselves is that outside of Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs, they have played really well at home of late. The bad news is, they have played pretty bad as of late on the road and now they have to do a West Coast road trip.
The Rockies will need to find a balance between the two, or at least win some series on the road if they don’t want to be in the Dodgers rearview mirror come July 1.
On a side note, when it comes to the Dodgers, the team could be without shortstop Corey Seager for some time after he injured his hamstring Tuesday night. The Dodgers still will have a potent pitching staff and lineup to not fall off, though.
The Rockies are still in control of their own destiny somewhat in 2019. But on July 1, the calendar and standings could spell something different for the Rockies.
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