You’d be forgiven if you woke up on the morning of June 28 having mentally moved on from the 2018 Rockies. Maybe your summer would still include a game or two at Coors Field, but you’d be going for the weather and atmosphere more than competitive baseball. The night before, the Rockies lost their fourth consecutive game, and their record matched a season worst four games below .500. Even worse, it was an entirely winnable game. Kyle Freeland pitched seven scoreless innings against the Giants, but the offense couldn’t muster a run of support. Harrison Musgrave ultimately gave up a walk-off home run to Brandon Crawford.
Emotionally, it was a demoralizing loss. The unfeeling numbers weren’t too keen on it either. According to FanGraphs, the Rockies playoff odds were at a season low 3.3% after the June 27 heartbreaker. That was only better than the dregs of the National League — the Padres, Marlins, Mets, and Reds.
There wasn’t a lot of reason to be optimistic. June 28 was also the day Arenado vented his frustrations to Nick Groke. “I’m tired of coming to the ballpark and losing,” Arenado said. So, yeah, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t feel great about the Rockies prospects on June 28, because neither did the Rockies.
But the Rockies won on June 28. They won the next two games as well. They crept back to .500 with a win against the Giants on July 3, and they won again on July 4 to go over .500 for the first time in over almost a month. (That particular game finished off a sweep of the Giants, which felt pretty good in light of that June 27 game.) And the Rockies kept winning after that. In all, since that loss on June 27, the Rockies are 13-3. They enter the break on a five-game winning streak, and they sit just two games behind the first place Dodgers. The Rockies postseason prospects are much, much better, too.
Here’s where the Rockies’ playoff odds stand relative to everyone else in the NL, according to the FanGraphs and FiveThirtyEight projections:
NL Playoff Odds, as of 7/16
That the Rockies best stretch of play in 2018 has come right before the All-Star Break — right at a time for season reflections like this one — may make things look rosier than they actually are. It still wouldn’t be surprising if the Rockies play about .500 ball the rest of the way and finish with about 85 wins. But this team has been a lot of fun to watch over the past few weeks, and it’s fun to watch those wins translate into ascendant playoff odds and a shrinking number of games behind first place. Let’s hope those feelings on the morning of June 28 turn out to be laughably unfounded.