SPORTS

Can the Rockies go the distance?

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The Colorado Rockies have turned things around after a relatively slow start to the 2019 season, and they are now tied for second place in the National League West with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rockies are 71 games into the 162-game season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint … and we all know that in baseball, anything can happen.

In Major League Baseball, teams focus all their energy on one goal – going to the World Series. The Rockies are no different, and management worked feverishly in the off-season and beyond to make what they hope were all the right moves to set the Blake Street Bombers up for success. They signed Nolan Arenado to a huge multi-year contract, ensuring his presence in the lineup for years to come.

Pitching has remained an issue for the Rox in the early going this season, with 2018 phenom Kyle Freeland shuffled down to the minors after a lackluster start in 2019. The hope is that Freeland, a Colorado native and fan favorite, can figure things out and make a successful return to the Big Show in the near future. Oh, and Tyler Anderson is having knee surgery. Pitching woes are abundant and never-ending for the Rox.

In the meantime, the Rockies keep doing what they do. Arenado, Story and Blackmon are leading the offensive charge with some help from wily veterans and talented newcomers. Marquez and Gray are having good if not great years on the mound. The new pitcher, Peter Lambert, is off to a promising start. It’s looking more and more as if the Rockies might be able to put together another deep playoff run. Time will tell.

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WHERE DOES VEGAS STAND?

Right now, Vegas has Colorado’s odds of winning the World Series at +4000. That means if you place a $100 bet on the Rox today, and they eventually become the World Series champions, you would win $4,000. Those odds seem bad, but the Rox are actually in the middle of the pack at this point in the season. Let’s put things in perspective …

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are heavily favored to win the World Series, each with odds of +275. Colorado has the 13th highest chance, as defined by Vegas, to win it all with those +4000 odds. Bringing up the rear are five teams, each with odds of +250,000 (that is NOT a typo). Those pitiful teams are the Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals, the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays.

DIVISON RACE AND WILD CARD

Colorado’s first step in going to the World Series is winning the National League West pennant. Right now it looks like a three-way race with the Dodgers way out in front of the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers have a 48-24 record which puts the Rockies 10.5 games out with their 37-34 record. The Diamondbacks are tied for second place with their 38-35 record.

The San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants would appear to be out of the race. The Padres, at 35-37, are 13 games back. The Giants, at 30-39, are 16.5 games back. Of course, it’s baseball and anything can happen. There are plenty of losing streaks ahead for all teams, and plenty of winning streaks.

The Rockies have to be laser-focused on catching up to and overtaking the Dodgers to win the National League West. That’s the most sure-fire way to win a berth in the playoffs. If they can’t do that, the sluggers must find a way to secure a wild card berth. And that might be tricky this year, as several National League teams are having great seasons.

The National League is divided into three divisions – East, Central and West. Right now the Atlanta Braves are leading the East with a record of 42-30. The Milwaukee Brewers are tops in the Central with a record of 40-31. The Dodgers are the West leaders with their 48-24 record. If the season ended today, the two National League wild card spots would go to the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs.

The Phillies have a 39-32 record and the Cubs have a 39-32 record. The Rockies and the Diamondbacks are both two games out of the wild card with their respective records of 37-34 and 38-35. In other words, the wild card spots are up for grabs and it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out and where things end up.

The wild card race in particular could get really interesting, as a handful of other teams are surging and are absolutely in contention. The New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals will all be working just as hard as the Rockies to climb the standings and compete for those playoff spots.

NOLAN BEING NOLAN

In order for the Rockies to make a deep playoff run, we need to see continued success from Arenado, Story and Blackmon. They are the heart of the team and when they are doing well, the Rockies do well. Arenado in particular will be under a microscope because of his shiny new contract.

Nolan’s eight-year, $260 million contract seems like a bargain in hindsight.

Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million deal this year with the Padres. Machado is batting .261 on the season and has hit 13 homeruns. He is striking out a little over 23 percent of the time.

Superstar Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. Harper is batting .247 on the season and has hit 12 homeruns. He is striking out nearly 35 percent of the time.

Arenado, meanwhile, is slugging .321 on the season and has hit 17 homeruns. His strikeout rate is only 13 percent. He also has 57 RBI’s, 16 doubles, 2 triples and 26 walks. The third baseman, not known for his speed, also has two stolen bases.

Arenado also helps drive attendance at Coors Field. Average attendance at home games so far this year is 34,306. That’s despite an across-the-board attendance drop for the sport.

Combine all this with his defensive prowess … he’s arguably the best third baseman in the game … and it’s easy to see why Arenado is one of the keys to Colorado’s continued success in 2019.

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY

Shortstop Trevor Story is known as a power hitter. But he has always had a strikeout problem. Dating back to 2016, Story has struck out an average of 33 percent of the time. But during that same time frame, he has hit 105 homeruns, 114 doubles and 15 triples.

Story’s 2019 has been a good one so far. In just 70 games played, he has racked up 17 homeruns, 19 doubles and 2 triples. He has batted in 48 runs and has struck out 85 times (30 percent). Something tells us that the strikeouts won’t matter much to management if he keeps the production up.

Story is a dependable shortstop and fans love him. He’s a key component, along with Arenado and Blackmon, and will play a huge part in Colorado’s fortunes the rest of the season.

CHUCK NAZTY

Charlie Blackmon has settled in as the lead-off batter for the Rockies this year. He has batted first in the order in 55 games this year (244 plate appearances). From the lead-off position, Chuck Nazty is batting for a .336 average and has hit 16 homeruns.

He has been with the Rockies since 2011 but had a record year in 2017 with 37 homeruns and 140 RBI’s. The centerfielder is a fan favorite for not only his defensive and offensive production, but also his wicked sense of humor.

If Arenado, Story and Blackmon can stay healthy throughout the season the sky is the limit for the Rockies. They all regularly bat in the upper half of the lineup and no pitcher looks forward to facing them.

WILY VETERANS AND TALENTED NEWCOMERS

A handful of veteran players bolster the Rockies offense. Ian Desmond has a solid .274 average on the year and has hit 9 homeruns. Daniel Murphy has a .278 average and has 5 homeruns. Both have over 30 RBI’s.

Relative newcomers like Ryan McMahon, David Dahl and Raimel Tapia have done their part to keep Colorado’s season on the upswing and will all likely be factors as the season continues to unfold.

RECORD BREAKING SERIES

It will be exciting to see how the season plays out for these Rockies. Their offense is just kicking into high gear, as demonstrated over this past weekend. The Rox hosted the Padres for a four-game series and the two teams broke a 90-year-old record for most runs scored in a four-game set.

The two teams combined to score 92 runs across the four games. The previous record was held by the Phillies and Dodgers in May 1929.

VOTE FOR THE ROCKIES!

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