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The Rockies face a brutal second half schedule

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It will be an — * ahem * — rocky road to the postseason

The All-Star Game is over, and the Rockies enter the second half of the season 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. That’s a good position to be in, although the cluster of teams around the Rockies make their playoff odds considerably less rosy. Eight teams are within three games of one another for the two Wild Card spots. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for the Rockies, as well as what they need to do to make the postseason for the third consecutive season.

Key series

As Adam noted on this week’s Affected by Altitude podcast, the Rockies have the toughest strength of schedule ahead of them among all Wild Card competitors. Their remaining opponents have a collective win percentage of .512. By comparison, the Diamondbacks’ second half opponents have a combined win percentage of .497, which is the “easiest” strength of schedule.

The Rockies are within one game of the Padres and Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Rockies and D-backs have six remaining games, three in Arizona and three in Colorado. Both of those series will take place in August, so if Arizona ends up a major competitor, there will be a lot of scoreboard watching in September. The Rockies and Padres play 10 more times — four games in San Diego in August, and six more split between San Diego and Denver in September.

The real unfortunate bit of scheduling for the Rockies comes against the division-leading Dodgers, who the Rockies have little chance to catch in the NL West. After a seven game home stand directly following the All Star Break, the Rockies will go on a 10 game road trip that will see them face the Yankees for three, the Nationals for four, and the Reds for three. They follow that immediately by coming home to play the Dodgers for three games to end July. It’s a beastly way to end the month, as the Rockies won’t get a day off to recover after a long road trip before playing the best team in the National League.

Not only that, but the Rockies have six more games against the Dodgers in 2019, all of them coming in September, and all of them taking place in Los Angeles.

MLB schedulers: What the hell?

These two series are from September 2-4 and September 20-22. Right now, our best hope is that by September 20 the Dodgers won’t have much to play for.

The Rockies play the other National League Wild Card competitors and division leaders a total of 19 times - 11 at home and eight on the road. That’s a minor break in the middle of a tough schedule, but the eight road games are four at Washington and four at St. Louis. The home games are against the Pirates (4), Cardinals (3), Brewers (3), and the Braves (1; a makeup game).

The interleague schedule isn’t any kinder to the Rockies. In addition to the three games against the Yankees near the end of July, they travel to Houston to face the Astros for two games on August 6 and 7. They also play two against the Red Sox at Coors Field on August 27 and 28. That’s better, but the unfortunate part of that series is that instead of the day off they were supposed to have before the start of the series, they’ll play that aforementioned makeup game against the Braves. Losing this day off means the Rockies will play on 20 consecutive days from August 16 to September 4, which wraps up on the road against the Dodgers.

There are home series against the Reds, Marlins, and Mets, but otherwise, this is a really difficult second half schedule for the Rockies. You can see the schedule at the end of this post.

What the Rockies need to do

Part of what the Rockies will ultimately need to do to make the postseason depends on what other teams do. But we can’t worry about that. Since the expanded Wild Card format was introduced in 2012, the median number of wins for a second Wild Card winner is 88 games. We can use that as a baseline for the Rockies.

The math is simple. The Rockies have 73 games remaining, and in order to reach 88 wins, they’ll need to go 44-29 the rest of the way, a .602 win percentage. There’s a chance they do that and still don’t make the postseason; there’s also a chance they don’t need quite that many wins, but it will be very close to that mark. According to Baseball Reference’s Play Index, the best record the Rockies have had in any 73 game stretch so far in 2019 was 41-32.

For the Rockies to make the postseason, they’ll need to play their best baseball of the season against a pretty grueling second half schedule. We’re about to see how good this team really is.

Rockies second half schedule

Date Opponent
Date Opponent
July 12 vs. Reds
July 13 vs. Reds
July 14 vs. Reds
July 15 vs. Giants (2)
July 16 vs. Giants
July 17 vs. Giants
July 18 OFF
July 19 at Yankees
July 20 at Yankees
July 21 at Yankees
July 22 at Nationals
July 23 at Nationals
July 24 at Nationals
July 25 at Nationals
July 26 at Reds
July 27 at Reds
July 28 at Reds
July 29 vs. Dodgers
July 30 vs. Dodgers
July 31 vs. Dodgers
August 1 OFF
August 2 vs. Giants
August 3 vs. Giants
August 4 vs. Giants
August 5 OFF
August 6 at Astros
August 7 at Astros
August 8 at Padres
August 9 at Padres
August 10 at Padres
August 11 at Padres
August 12 vs. Diamondbacks
August 13 vs. Diamondbacks
August 14 vs. Diamondbacks
August 15 OFF
August 16 vs. Marlins
August 17 vs. Marlins
August 18 vs. Marlins
August 19 at Diamondbacks
August 20 at Diamondbacks
August 21 at Diamondbacks
August 22 at Cardinals
August 23 at Cardinals
August 24 at Cardinals
August 25 at Cardinals
August 26 vs. Braves
August 27 vs. Red Sox
August 28 vs. Red Sox
August 29 vs. Pirates
August 30 vs. Pirates
August 31 vs. Pirates
September 1 vs. Pirates
September 2 at Dodgers
September 3 at Dodgers
September 4 at Dodgers
September 5 FINALLY OFF
September 6 at Padres
September 7 at Padres
September 8 at Padres
September 9 OFF
September 10 vs. Cardinals
September 11 vs. Cardinals
September 12 vs. Cardinals
September 13 vs. Padres
September 14 vs. Padres
September 15 vs. Padres
September 16 vs. Mets
September 17 vs. Mets
September 18 vs. Mets
September 19 OFF
September 20 at Dodgers
September 21 at Dodgers
September 22 at Dodgers
September 23 OFF
September 24 vs. Giants
September 25 vs. Giants
September 26 vs. Giants
September 27 vs. Brewers
September 28 vs. Brewers
September 29 vs. Brewers