Which National League team is the biggest threat to the Rockies’ playoff hopes?
Kiz: OK, that eight-game losing streak was either sobering … or enough to drive a Rockies fan to drink, with a here-we-swoon-again lament. Listen, I think 87 victories will get this team a wild-card berth, and playing .500 ball in the second half of the season gets that done. But should the Rockies be looking in the rearview mirror at a challenger sneaking up behind them?
Groke: This NL is bad, Kiz. Like burnt-kernels-at-the-bottom-of-a-popcorn-box bad. The only thing worse is the NBA’s Eastern Conference (holy cow, now THAT’S bad). Until the end of June, the worst team in the American League, the Oakland A’s, was closer to a wild card than the top team out of contention in the NL, the Chicago Cubs. Only a massive, embarrassing tank job can keep the Rockies out of the playoffs.
Kiz: The chance of Colorado catching the Dodgers and winning the division is so slim it’s not even worth talking about. But the Rockies still have a 68 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to the computer projections of FanGraphs. Maybe the best thing Colorado has going for it is this: Outside of the West, the National League is amazingly mediocre this year. There might not be more than seven teams that finish the season with a winning record.
Groke: The team Rockies fans should be rooting for is Milwaukee. If the Brewers play well enough, they might keep the Cubs or Cardinals from breaking away with snowballing momentum. Milwaukee is not scary. But that Cubs roster is worthy of another World Series run. Even if the Cubs win the division, keeping the second-place team in the Central from gaining steam would really help Colorado’s chances.
Kiz: My guess is Milwaukee will fade after the all-star break, while the Cubs will finally emerge from the fog of their World Series hangover and win the NL Central. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion the team Colorado will need to hold off for the second wild-card berth is St. Louis. The Cardinals’ starting rotation of Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha is stronger than the kiddie corps in LoDo. Pitching always matters. It matters more in September.
The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant have yet to find their stride. How the team does in the second half could have an impact on the Rockies.