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Rockies playoff hopes dive after disastrous California road trip

There’s still time, but it’s running out

Like an aspiring actor who goes west hoping for big screen glory and ends up spending years playing an extra in movies starring much bigger stars, the Rockies had a pretty terrible trip to California this week. First they went to San Francisco and, despite the Giants being mired in an 11-game losing streak and the Rockies having season-long success against them, the Giants took two-of-three. The pitching staff allowed a total of seven runs in the three games, but the Rockies managed to score in just one inning out of 27 during the series. Then, in perhaps the biggest series of the season (or maybe franchise history), the Rockies laid an egg in the first game and had their hearts broken by late home runs two nights in a row. They even nearly lost their MVP-candidate shortstop.

A mere six days ago the Rockies were the odds-on-favorite to take not only a playoff spot but also their first division title in franchise history. They went into California with a 1.5 game lead in the NL West but, thanks to their 1-5 trip and the Dodgers going 5-1 in the same timeframe, they now find themselves 2.5 games back with 10 games left in the season. They’re also 1.5 games behind the Cardinals for the final Wild Card Spot. Times are getting desperate, and the Rockies playoff odds reflect this.

2018 National League Playoff Odds

Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds ROS Opponent W%
Team Record GB Run Differential BP Playoff Odds FanGraphs Odds Five Thirty-Eight Odds ROS Opponent W%
Cubs* 89-63 -- +112 100.0% 100.0% >99% .474
Brewers+ 87-66 2.5 +60 99.3% 99.3% 99% .470
Dodgers* 85-68 4.5 +156 96.4% 98.2% 96% .506
Braves* 84-68 5.0 +92 98.9% 96.4% 97% .475
Cardinals 84-69 5.5 +77 74.8% 75.8% 75% .512
Rockies 82-70 7.0 -9 27.9% 25.3% 29% .524
Diamondbacks 79-74 10.5 +57 1.1% 0.5% <1% .523
Philliies 78-74 10.5 -7 1.4% 4.3% 3% .504
*=Division Leader, +=Wild Card Leader Rest of Season Opponent Win Percentage courtesy FanGraphs

For those keeping track at home, that’s nearly a 50% drop in playoff odds over a six day span for the Rockies. They no longer have to put their heads down and win their own games, but now need help from other teams. Had the Rockies won just one or two more games on the road trip they would be still within reasonable striking distance of the division title, but now it will take the Dodgers dropping some games against the Padres (home for three), Diamondbacks (at Arizona for three), or Giants (in San Francisco for three) for them to have any chance at the division title. The situation for the second Wild Card spot is a little better, as the Cardinals have to host the wild card leading Brewers for three next week and then close the season with three at the Cubs. The Cubs and Brewers may still be competing for the NL Central crown, so Chicago may not be in rest mode.

All of that is predicated on the Rockies dropping as few games as possible. And while FanGraphs has theirs as the toughest schedule among remaining contenders, all nine of their games are against teams (Arizona, Philadelphia, Washington) that are relying on an absolute miracle to qualify for the playoffs.

National League Remaining Schedules

Team Sep 20-23 Sep 24-27 Sep 28-30
Team Sep 20-23 Sep 24-27 Sep 28-30
Rockies 3 @ ARI 4 v PHI 3 v WAS
Dodgers 3 v SD 3 @ ARI 3 @ SF
Cardinals 3 v SF 3 v MIL 3 @ CHC
Braves 4 v PHI 3 @ NYM 3 @ PHI
Brewers 3 @ PIT 3 @ STL 3 v DET
Cubs 3 @ CWS 4 v PIT 3 v STL
Dbacks 3 v COL 3 v LAD 3 @ SD

It has come down to the last ten games of the season for the Rockies. They need a little help to get in, but they also need to win their own games to have anything resembling a chance at going to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.