Monday, August 3, 2009

With Two Months Remaining, Do The Rockies Have What It Takes?

The Colorado Rockies have played 105 games in 2009. Through 105 games all the Rockies have shown is that they are a 1/2 game better than the Giants. However, it is tough to judge the Rockies based on 105 games as a whole. The Rockies season really has to be split up into two distinct parts. The first two months, when Clint Hurdle was managing the team, and the second two months, when Jim Tracy took the reigns.

With Hurdle at the helm the Rockies won 20 games through May 29th. Since then they have won 38 games, nearly double the wins in nearly the same amount of time. The question begs to be asked, where would these Rockies be if they could have the first two months of the season back.

That will not happen, so the question for the present is what will it take for the Rockies to continue in their winning ways and find their way back to the playoffs?

With 105 games in the books the Rockies have won 58 games and lost 47, good enough for a slight advantage in the Wild Card race and seven games behind the NL West leading Dodgers. While hope for the Rockies to finish the regular season raising their first ever NL West banner still exists, the most likely route to the playoffs is via the Wild Card.

So what will it take to win the Wild Card?

It is fair to assume that the team that walks away with the Wild Card will need to record 90 wins. It may take one or two more when all is said and done, but 90 wins should do the trick.

That means that with 57 games to play, the Rockies will need to slap hands with each other after 32 games. If the Rockies win 32 games they will lose 26 games, meaning that they need to .561 baseball the rest of the season. That does not sound like a difficult task, however, considering that in four months the Rockies are still just 11 games over .500.

With the addition of Rafael Betancourt and Joe Beimel the Rockies have shored up the biggest issue holding them back from the 90 win threshold, the bullpen. The Rockies now have a solid bridge to get them from the starter to Huston Street in the ninth inning.

While scoring the second most runs in the National League, the Rockies offense has yet to reach it’s full potential. Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart are hitting below .230 and should be quite a bit higher than that. Their power has kept them from being a true burden on the scoring, however, if both of them improved their averages into the .250 range, top to bottom the Rockies would be the most difficult club to face on any given day.

The starting pitching for the Rockies has been nothing less than phenomenal for the club. Going into the season, with Jeff Francis on the shelf for the year, it looked as if the rotation would be a two man club with a flip of the coin on the next three days. Both Jason Marquis and Jorge De La Rosa have proved the critics wrong.

Marquis was thought of as nothing more than an inning eater who was nothing better than a fifth starter. De La Rosa was thought of as a head case who would never harness his potential. While De La Rosa had his struggles early, he has turned into one of the most consistent pitchers that the club has. In his last seven starts he is 7-0. Marquis was selected to his first All-Star game in St. Louis in July and was one pitch away from being tied for the league lead in wins.

The fact is, any playoff berth requires a certain amount of luck. The Rockies at some point will need the ball to bounce their way. They will need an opposing closer to blow a save, and they will need a few overthrows from the oppositions defense.

The question remains, do the Rockies have what it takes to make the playoffs? What do they need to do differently to create some distance in the Wild Card race? Are the Rockies for real, or are they just smoke in mirrors? What do you think?

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