Following yesterday's 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Rockies dropped a season low 27 games under .500. They're now on pace to lose at least 95 games for the third time in four years.
With a record like that, the final nine games of the season would seem meaningless, and they are in terms of 2015. However, depending on what the Rockies and some other teams with terrible records do over the next week and a half, it could have a huge impact on the distant future. Let's take a look at the reverse standings for a moment as we enter play on Friday.
(Note: In the event of a tie between two teams, the higher pick in the 2016 draft will be awarded to the team with the worse record in 2014. That's reflected here as the Brewers had a worse record than the A's in 2014 and the White Sox had a worse record than the Padres. This is also important for the Rockies as they had a worse record than all of these teams in 2014, so they will be awarded the higher pick in the event of any tie.)
The Phillies all but officially have the top pick in next year's draft wrapped up, but behind that, only four games separate the second pick from the seventh pick, and only two games separate the second pick from the sixth pick. In other words, anybody between the Marlins and Braves could see a significant swing in draft order position between now and the end of the season. Here's the remaining schedules of the six teams in that log jam:
We'll start with the Rockies and then work our way though the other teams.
The remaining schedule looks a little tougher than it is here. The Rockies will miss both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in this weekend's Dodgers series and they should catch the Giants only a few days after they've been eliminated which should take the wind out of their balloon.
One wild card here is whether or not Madison Bumgarner will have 19 wins when his turn comes up against the Rockies (he' still stuck on 18 after failing to win last night). Even though pitching wins are very overrated, the Giants will likely go out of their way to win that one game for him against the Rockies if that's all they're playing for.
On the other hand, while the Rockies will miss the teeth of the Dodgers rotation, they do have six games on the road compared to just three at home. In addition to this, the starting rotation is mess. This weekend the Rockies are sending David Hale, Kyle Kendrick, and Chris Rusin to the mound. With both Jon Gray and Jorge De La Rosa shut down for the season, Chad Bettis is by far the most interesting member of this rotation, and the bullpen just blew a late lead in the game he started yesterday.
The Rockies could push Bettis and try to get him two more starts this year by starting him on normal rest Tuesday in Arizona (jump him a spot in the rotation with the off day on Monday) and then again on the Sunday to end the season in San Francisco, but I think the smarter move is to just give him one last start on Wednesday against the D-Backs and let the other eight games play out.
This team is weird. Just a week ago, they were coming off a 4-26 stretch. The majority of the 29 games they're under .500 are coming from just that one month of play. Yet all of a sudden, they've won five out of six and are in danger of losing a top two pick. I have no idea what to expect from this group, but if they win four or more of their last nine games, I think the Rockies might be picking ahead of them next June.
Of course, considering their history against the Rockies, their 1-6 head to head record this year against against Colorado was probably just some really long con where they finish one game worse in the standings, pick ahead in next year's draft, and grab some future Hall of Famer the Rockies would have gotten.
This team might actually be a good pick to end up with the second worse record right now. Their schedule is brutal. Nine out of their last ten games are against motivated playoffs teams and the other is a weird make up game on the road against Washington in the middle of a home stand.
Another team with a tough schedule. Lots of road games, and six against playoff teams. It is possible however that the Cubs will know they have no shot at the first wild card by the time they play the Brewers for the last three games of the season. If this happens, they could be reshuffling their rotation making it easier for Milwaukee to take this series.
This team is falling fast. They're just 6-15 in their last 21 games, although they're probably going to find a little extra motivation this weekend since they have a chance to officially eliminate the team across the bay. This is another team that's very hard to read though, especially with just a -27 run differential. According to that, they should only be a few games under .500 (the Rockies by comparison have a -123 run differential in 2015). However, when a team underachieves like that, they're often prone to phoning it in at the very end of the season.
This team is looking more and more like they're going to get the seventh pick every day. They're 14-8 in their last 22 games and are playing inspired baseball. There's also an outside chance of Giancarlo Stanton returning during the last few days of the season, although that seems less likely now than it did a week ago. Combine this with an easy schedule, and I'm pretty sure the Rockies will be picking ahead of them in next year's draft.
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While getting a better draft pick isn't anywhere near important as it is in the NBA or NFL, this is a rather unusual situation where only a couple of loses could be the difference between picking second and picking sixth. In other seasons, a team might have to lose eight or ten more games to get that type of bump. This doesn't mean the Rockies should be trying to lose these games on the field, but it does mean they should do things like not give their best starter right now (Chad Bettis) two more starts.
There's something else going on here that will have an impact even further down the road. Right now, MLB has what's called Competitive Balance Round picks. These take place between the first and second round of the draft and then again between the second and third rounds. Each set of picks includes six selections for a total of twelve. The teams eligible for these picks are the teams in the ten smallest markets and the teams with the ten smallest revenue pools. There's some overlap there, so in total, this leaves 14 teams eligible for these picks.
Well guess what? Along with the Rockies, the Red, Brewers, A's, and Marlins are all among the teams eligible for these picks, and while they are determined by a lottery, your odds of getting the higher picks are determined by record. So finishing with a worse record than these teams could have an impact here as well as in the top ten picks of next year's draft.
It should be noted however that this is a long away. These records will determine the lottery for the Competitive Balance Round picks in the 2017 draft, and all that really matters is that you get one of the first six picks (usually between no. 35 and 40 overall) instead of one of the second six picks (usually between no. 70 and 75 overall).
So far, the Rockies have gotten four picks from this lottery. They selected Alex Balog with a second round Competitive Balance lottery pick in 2013, and then selected Forrest Wall and Tyler Nevin with first round Competitive Balance lottery picks in 2014 and 2015. Then, they already have another first round pick here in 2016 (meaning they will have three picks in the top 50) and should get another one in the 2017 draft with a finish worse than the Reds, Brewers, A's, and Marlins, meaning they could have three picks in the top 50 of that draft as well assuming the team goes forward with a nuclear rebuild this winter.
Also, this is a very inexact science. While the second pick seems much better than the sixth or seventh selection, it's important to note that the Rockies took Todd Helton with the eighth overall pick in 1995 and Troy Tulowitzki with the seventh overall pick in 2005. It's hard to pinpoint the best talent at that stage (although Tulo's draft was unbelievably stacked).
Only time will tell where the best talent gets taken in the 2016 draft, but it's fun to think about when your team is as bad as the Rockies are right now.