Can the Colorado Rockies stay hot and win the National League West? That’s the question on the lips of every Rockies fan as the franchise seeks a first-ever division title. Previously playing a supporting role in the National League West to the triumphs of big-spending franchises the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants (and even a World Series win for the Arizona Diamondbacks), Colorado now seems to finally have the right pieces in the right places for a serious push to National League West glory.
With the top three teams so closely matched – something manager Bud Black recognized would happen all the way back in Spring Training when he said the division would go down to the wire – the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers are desperately trying to earn an automatic place in the playoffs as division winners rather than have to go through the wild card route.
With MLB odds on Bet365 giving Arizona the edge as winners of the division, for the Rockies, to achieve such a feat means so much more. After all, the franchise hasn’t done it before. If this is to be their year, you wouldn’t bet against Colorado making further inroads towards a World Series berth.
Yes, you heard me say “Colorado Rockies” and “World Series” in the same sentence. It’s not that far-fetched. Pitching is where the Rockies have traditionally struggled, and that’s often been viewed as a problem at home where the altitude has not just made it difficult for pitchers to dominate but has even contributed to players ending up on the disabled list. For example, starter Mike Hampton was signed back in 2000 but struggled, the lack of movement on the ball causing him to compensate by throwing harder and ultimately injuring himself.
That’s got into the heads of the Rockies pitchers over the years, from starting staff to relievers. But it’s something that appears to have become less of a concern this year. The physics of Coors Field, originally known as the Mile High Stadium for good reason, haven’t changed but the mentality of those on the mound have. That could be down to the confidence of youth with ace Kyle Freeland, in his sophomore year, leading the way. Going into the last few games of the regular season, the Rockies’ rotation leader boasts an ERA under 3.00 and will go way past 150 strikeouts in 2018.
If the relief pitching can follow the example of starters Freeland, Gray and Marquez, then confidence is bound to be boosted. But the Rockies can still put their faith in a batting line-up boasting the power of Nola Arenado and Trevor Story alongside the consistency of right-fielder Carlos Gonzalez and center-fielder Charlie Blackmon. If these guys get hot down the stretch, then the Rockies may not need to worry too much about the inconsistency of the bullpen.
There are more talented rosters around MLB but there’s a genuine feeling that the Rockies line-up of 2018 has never been better placed to make a run not just at the National League West but maybe, just maybe, the National League title and a little bit more.