I like Crystal Balls. With real baseball a month away, I'm always curious what my Summer will look like. Will our Rockies be fun to watch? Will pitching derail the Summer fun? Will the Red Sox visit in late September matter? Last week's post on over/unders sort of provided a benchmark of what we can expect this season. At 71.5 wins Vegas doesn't expect much from our purple pinstripes.
In some respects this might be a blessing. Rockies seemingly have wilted with any sort of high expectation and seem to excel in that underdog role. At 71.5 wins and another last place finish in the window what I hope is that Weiss and Company can at least make Coors fun again. Obviously any expectation has to be tailored to how the Rockies stack up within their division. With now 76 games (compared to the old normal of 72) against the Padres, D-Backs, Dodgers, and Giants, competing with our neighbors is key. During the past two seasons the Rockies have only managed 28 wins each year against our division foes. Below are my thoughts:
Padres - On the bright side, the Padres are the only team in the NL West that the Rockies have a winning record against (166-155). In a tale of two teams with extreme ballparks, for whatever reason Rockies seem to have an upper hand against this division foe. Coming into this season the Padres have a lot of question marks. Only three years away from their surprise 90 win season they have since floundered to a 5th and 4th place finish. Inconsistency, much like the Rockies, seem to be the calling card for this team. I say we can take 10 or 11 games.
Arizona - The D-Backs have seemingly been a thorn in the Rockies side for the past couple of years. Not an overpowering team by any means but certain players have owned the Rockies the last couple of seasons (Montero?). Rockies took a page from the D-Backs and almost hired an entire staff of former players following the mold of Kirk Gibson's staff. In fact we had a couple of interviews with Matt Williams. In the can't beat em, join em philosophy then perhaps Rockies can gain on our Southern neighbors. I say 7-8 wins.
Dodgers - Last year Rockies were actually fairly competitive with our division nemesis. Finishing 9-9 against them last year and owning 137-184 record against them all time, this year matchup is anyone's guess. For a team like the Dodgers who have probably spent more money on this year's roster than what the entire Rockies organization is probably worth, it will be worth seeing if the Dodgers can live up the expectations of being the new Evil Empire of the West Coast. If Dodgers flourish it could be tough but if they wilt under the pressure then the Rockies could sneak a few extra wins. My take 6-7 wins.
Giants - Rockies true nemesis and the team that has literally owned us every which way. 14-4 against last year, 13-5 the previous year, the Giants for whatever reason have beaten the Rockies in ever conceivable way. For team that only scored 719 runs last and 125 of those (17%) came against us (Rockies do account for 11% of their schedule), they seemingly love Denver. In fact, it is the Giants that make me wonder if the NL hasn't figured out something about Coors that the Rockies haven't. Teams with serious run scoring problems come to Denver and just tee off (see Seattle last season). Can the Giants feast on us again? I say Giants have an off year due to long playoff runs and Rockies sneak to 7-8 wins.
Best case scenario then is 34 wins. In addition to the NL West, the Rockies get a healthy dose of the AL East and Astros (20 games). In previous years, the Rockies have owned the AL but last year's black eye (2-13) really makes me wonder if the Rockies can get ahead from playing the Junior Circuit. Somehow I don't see the schedule being overly favorable with games against the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Red Sox although Rockies do get a break with getting the miserable Astros! Also interesting will be how team's fare with the AL and NL playing each and every day. So let's toss in 10 more wins.
So 96 games against teams we have 581-696 all time record against! Or about 44 wins. With 66 games remaining against the other 10 NL teams I would like our chances to at least play .500 baseball (?). So with all that we are looking at 77 wins. Little better than what Vegas suggests and this is if we can win 34 games against our division rivals which might be a challenge depending on just how dominant the Dodgers can be.