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Sunday Rockpile: Mostly up the mountain is not a time to rest

Winning today: VERY IMPORTANT

I'm going to spend the rest of this Rockpile getting into the remaining schedule, but I don't want anybody overlooking the series wrap-up this afternoon against Arizona. Because the Giants and Padres are playing each other this weekend, the Rockies have been finding themselves in a position where each win takes them a step forward, because one of those teams has to lose, but any loss would take them two steps back because one of those teams also has to win.

Sweeping the Diamondbacks significantly helps the team's cause, but even one loss in the series would result in just a marginal gain on the teams we're chasing in the West. Still, Baseball Prospectus has our playoff odds up to 31%.

Why we still might want the Padres to beat the Giants today.

Now that I just showed the Baseball Prospectus odds, everybody else isn't quite as rosy.

As of this morning, the Giants have twelve home games left, only seven road games, and their opponents' combined winning percentage is .497.  Meanwhile, the Padres have a schedule that's pretty much the exact opposite of that. They only have eight remaining home games, thirteen on the road and their opponents' winning percentage is .528. The Rockies have the advantage on both teams in the win percentage of their remaining opponents (.492) and are split evenly with ten games left at Coors, ten on the road.

Right now, because of the remaining schedules, the favorite to win the division has to be the Giants despite the fact that they find themselves one game behind in the standings. If San Francisco wins today, catching them is going to be very difficult given how easy they have it the rest of the season. If the Padres win today and retake a two game lead, San Diego will once again be the favorite, but the Padres will also be easier to chase down given their schedule.

September is a good month to travel.

Giants fans and Padres fans seem to have a lot of confidence (alright, maybe it's false bravado) that the Rockies aren't a legitimate threat because of what's considered common wisdom about the Rockies ability to win on the road.

If the Rockies have only six remaining losses available this year to hand out (leaving us at 92 wins, which as Jeff Aberle has been pointing out should leave us in at least in a tie for the division lead as long as the Giants and Padres don't go all crazy on us,) then we simply can't afford a losing record in those ten games as the team would have to go undefeated at Coors the rest of the way (another reason why winning today is very important) just to make up for it. 

Alright, it's pointless to argue that the Rockies haven't been abysmal on the road overall this season to date (they have been) but what I would argue is that the season to date road record tells us very little of what we should expect in the last three road series. That is to say, opposing fans (and some Rockies fans, for that matter) that are using it as a tool for predicting the future are unwise. The Rockies have a .500 record on the road in the NL West this year (granted, we don't play at PETCO anymore) and swept the Cardinals on the road last season. The talent on this teams suggests a .500 or better road record should be expected, I don't see any compelling reason not to.

  • Carlos Gonzalez should be back today - Also in the notes is word that Aaron Cook is likely to be back next season. I've advocated trading him before 2011 due to a combination of his contract and the Rockies pitching depth (and because at the time he wasn't pitching particularly well) but he's still a solid pitcher. He's probably not going to be worth $9.25 million in 2011, but he's not likely to be a bust next year either. What's left unsaid in this note and should be followed up on would be a decrease in the likelihood that either Jorge De La Rosa or Jeff Francis returns. Given the sum of everything we know and have been told up to this point, it seems the Rockies are preparing to move on without De La Rosa next season.
  • Troy Renck opines about various things - That word opines tends to get a negative connotation. I don't mean it that way this time. I agree with everything Renck's saying in his column this week, so much so that I don't really have anything else to say.
  • Tulowitzki showing no sapped power from his wrist injury
  • More notes, much more trivial than that first linked group.