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MLB trade deadline: Rockies’ playoff odds see small boost after trades

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The Rockies remain the odds on favorite to secure one of the last two National League playoff spots

The 2017 MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and, thanks to their 60-46 record, the Rockies spent it as buyers. They acted accordingly, adding right handed relief pitcher Pat Neshek to a bullpen that was fraying at the edges, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a lineup in need of a boost. While it can be debated whether they should have added more, the Rockies declared unequivocally that they intend to compete.

What impact has it had on their quest for their first postseason appearance since 2009? At this point the effect is marginal. They did receive a 1.6% bump in Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds, despite not playing yesterday and according to CBS Sports, the Lucroy trade alone bumped their odds up 2.5%. There are two reasons for this.

First, the additions aren’t that large in the context of the Rockies’ roster. Neshek replaced Jordan Lyles on the 25-man roster, but replaces Chris Rusin in the bullpen as everyone shuffles down the line. Lucroy will certainly improve their league-worst catcher corps, but he’s only been slightly better himself so far in 2017. There’s a chance we could look back in September at a resurgent Lucroy and dominant Neshek as two key catalysts propelling the team to Rocktober, but from our current vantage point the numbers don’t say quite so much.

The second reason the odds only increased marginally is because there’s not really much room for them to go up at this point. Here’s what the playoff picture looks like today.

National League Playoff Odds

Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds
Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds
Dodgers 74-31 -- +185 100.0% 100.0% >99%
Nationals 63-41 10.5 +116 99.0% 99.9% >99%
Diamondbacks 60-45 14 +124 92.1% 87.1% 79%
Rockies 60-46 14.5 +50 82.7% 76.2% 78%
Cubs 56-48 17.5 +36 84.1% 93.3% 84%
Cardinals 52-53 22 +24 18.8% 24.5% 21%
As of August 1, 2017

The division races are more or less wrapped up. Even though the Cubs lead the NL Central by just 212 games, they still have at least 84% odds to make the postseason; nobody else in their division is above 25%. The Nationals have a massive division lead and the Dodgers have decided that losing is in fact a moral failure on the part of the group and the individual. They are currently projected to win anywhere between 106 and 111 games. Of course they are.

The only race is for the Wild Card and even then it’s not much of a race. The projection systems love Arizona’s pitching and lineup depth and, though they have just a 12 game lead on the Rockies, are apparently the favorite to secure home field advantage in the Wild Card Playoff game.

But that doesn’t mean the Rockies are in bad position. The most pessimistic projection system still gives them a 76.2% chance to secure a playoff spot; no other team in the National League (the Cardinals, over whom the Rockies have a 712 game lead in the standings) have better than 25%.

Playoff Odds - July 31, 2017
FanGraphs

Right now it would appear that the teams are set, baring a major collapse by Arizona or Colorado, or a catastrophic incident for the current division leaders. There are 56 games left for the Rockies to try to overtake the Diamondbacks. The trade deadline helped those odds, but due to the nature of the competition for the one Wild Card game, there’s only so much a deadline acquisition (that would be in the Rockies’ price range, considering) could move the needle.

In a year where the general baseball population won’t have much in the way of playoff chances, Rockies fans get to live through the daily ups and downs of scoreboard watching.