Woody Paige: Rox a lock for National League wild card spot

Woody Paige: Rox a lock for National League wild card spot
Posted at 4:18 PM, Aug 04, 2017

DENVER — Lest we forget, the Rockies . . .

On Saturday, the Broncos hold a scrimmage that will put the high beams on quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, draft picks, tight ends, offensive linemen and assorted others.  Later in the day, the emphasis will be on Terrell Davis’ induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Yet, the Rockies will be playing at home against the Phillies.

It should be noted that the past two times (of three in franchise history) that the Rox reached the postseason, they played the Phillies – winning the first series, losing the second.

The Phillies are not in the same world as the playoffs this season, but the Rockies all but have clinched one of the two National League wild card spots.

According to FanGraphs projections, the Rockies have an 84 percent chance of advancing.

It would take a collapse of monumental proportions – as in 2010.

That season, in September, the Rockies were 81-67 and overwhelming favorites to be in the postseason. However, they ended the season with a 2-12 mark and fell from grace with the playoffs. And they haven’t been heard from since -- until this season.

The Rockies stand at 62-47 before the weekend series against lowly Philadelphia. They are third in the division behind the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks and well ahead of the Brewers (57-53) and the Cardinals, yes, the Cardinals, who are 53-55. Oddly enough, FanGraphs gives St. Louis more of a (slim) chance than Milwaukee to nudge past the Rockies or the Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers are 100 percent to win the division, the respected website states.

And the Rockies are predicted to finish behind the Diamondbacks, which would mean one game in Phoenix to determine which team would play against the Dodgers in the divisional playoffs.  The Nationals and the Cubs would meet in the other series.

There are 53 games remaining, though, for the Rockies.

On June 10th the Rockies were gliding along in first place in the division (having been atop the National League West for 59 days).

However, the Rockies would drop like an anvil – while the Dodgers would go on an incredible run.

The Rox went from 2 ½ games ahead to 14½ games behind – a difference of 16 games.

So, instead of easing toward the playoffs, the Rockies are scuffling.

At one point the Rockies were 47-26, 21 games over .500. From then to now, the Rockies are 15-21, six games below .500. An eight-game losing streak in late June decimated the Rockies. They settled somewhat in July, but managed to go .500 throughout the month.

In late May and early June, the drooling fans and media discussed the possibility of the Rockies winning more than 100 games. By late June, the expectations dipped into the 90s.

Based on what the Rockies have done for us lately, and isn’t that all that matters, the Rockies are on pace for 85-86 victories this season. Good enough to get into the postseason, but not good enough to set a club record, win a division for the first time in the 25 season of the organization or even good enough to be the host of the solo wild card game. The Rockies have descended from 16-10 in April to 17-12 in May, 15-12 in June, 12-12 in July and 2-1 in August. They were a dominant road team, but have slipped to 29-27 overall away from home.  The Rox are 33-20 at home and should improve that number over the weekend.

But nothing is guaranteed given the schedule.

Consider 1-Oct. 1: The Rockies will play 24 games against division teams: 12 against the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks (including eight straight on the road in Los Angeles and Arizona) and 12 more against the pesky Padres and the Giants (six in their cities).  San Diego and San Francisco are history, but they’ll be determined to become what the Rockies have tried to be in this decade: Spoilers!

The Rox also have five games in Cleveland and Kansas City against American League contending teams.

If the Rockies continue at the 15-21 pace, they would win in the mid-80s.  Play .500, and they’ll get close to 90. But if they can get back to the form of the first 80 days, the Rox could beat out the Snakes for second. They’ll need serious contributions from acquisitions Pat Neshek, who has moved into the eight-inning role, and Jonathan Lucroy, who has taken over as the starting catcher.  Can Chad Bettis get back to being the quality pitcher he was a year ago (12 victories)? Can the young starters hold up, and will Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story continue to improve at the plate?

The wild card game in baseball is Tuesday, Oct. 3, and the division playoff will be held the next weekend – when the Broncos have a bye.

But, Sunday afternoon, Oct. 1, will be fun in Denver when the Rockies play the Dodgers in the final regular-season game at Coors Field, and the Broncos play the Raiders at Mile High Stadium.