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Thursday Rockpile: NL West schedules for August still kind to Padres, but perhaps kinder to Rockies



Since Andrew already somewhat covered the major news for the Rockies (there are more links on Troy Tulowitzki's rehab after the jump), it gives me an opportunity to take a look at how the division race is shaping up. The Wall Street Journal did as well:

NL West: A Race of Flimsy Combatants -

Okay. So there you have the odds as well as your clearly biased East Coast potshot at the only MLB division with four teams at least five games over .500 right now. The Padres have been given the frontrunner's favorite status by the bookmakers but you can see the endorsement isn't exactly a ringing one. The reason why nobody should be fully sold on San Diego just yet: August.

Here's the home/road game breakdown for each of the four NL West contenders during the dog days:

  • San Diego 10/19
  • San Francisco 16/12
  • Colorado 12/15
  • Los Angeles 15/14

The Rockies still have the second most road games that month, but also the most off days, which will be a huge help this time of year, particularly in this stretch before rosters expand in September. By comparison, while the Rockies have four off days in the month of August alone, after Monday, the Padres will have just four left the entire season. It's not just where and how often you play, though, it's also who you play and this is where San Diego gets more of a break. Here are the games vs. teams over/under .500:

  • San Diego 11/18
  • San Francisco 21/7
  • Colorado 16/11
  • Los Angeles 23/6

More analysis of the schedule and links after the jump:

If the Rockies are looking for help from the outside in cutting into the Padres lead in the coming month, it's likely going to have to come in the middle of August during the Padres road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee after a weekend in San Francisco. That or maybe really early in their four game series against Los Angeles. Despite only 11 games against teams over .500 for the Padres, that's still not an easy schedule with only two off days and a near two to one ratio of road games. Their real saving grace is eight games against the Diamondbacks, who San Diego has gone 7-2 against so far in 2010, outscoring 54-30. If Kirk Gibson can somehow make the D-backs a .500 team against San Diego going forward, Rockies fans should send him a gift basket.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Dodgers are really going to have to fight to stay in the race against quality opposition. My own opinion is that unless L.A. or San Fran are able to sweep San Diego in their home series against the Padres in August, we could be looking at a two team race come September. Or, alternatively if they don't do well against San Diego but are both able to sweep the Rockies in their home series against Colorado, I guess we could be looking at a one team non-race.

For Colorado's part, the goal should be to get close enough for a September charge. The team will likely have to shoot for 8-7 on the road that month, a difficult task made slightly easier with seven games against the Pirates and Diamondbacks. A really tricky series in New York (where Russ has been bad luck for the team and the Mets are 30-16 this year) looms as the biggest non-divisional threat, with a home series against Atlanta coming in second, while the Rockies also will have to go into Los Angeles and San Francisco for important series for all the teams involved.

Basically, to win the division, I think Colorado needs to be at least two games better than San Diego from today until the end of August. I really think the Padres might come back to earth and finish below .500 for the month, but that's largely dependent on the Diamondbacks and Giants stepping up their play against San Diego for the rest of 2010, and if there's something all Rockies fans should learn, it's never to depend on the Snakes for anything and that the Giants are whiny and bitter and would seemingly cut off their own nose to spite the Rockies...

So there you have it. We might have to take care of San Diego ourselves again, ala 2007, by sweeping all six against them in September.