After an offseason when the 91-loss Colorado Rockies stayed mostly silent due to financial constraints, the Rockies entered 2020 with low expectations from the national media. They nonetheless jumped out to an 11-3 start, forcing consideration of the Rockies as a potential playoff contender. The bottom fell out before long, however, as the Rockies turned in a minus-68 run differential and fell towards the bottom of the National League. After four straight losses, they’re now 23-29 and 3 games out of a playoff spot.
Making matters worse, star third baseman Nolan Arenado recently underwent tests on his sore left shoulder, and it’s possible the Rox will be without their superstar for the remaining 8 games, per Thomas Harding of MLB.com. He’s been affected all season by the injury to the A/C joint of his left shoulder, perhaps helping contribute to a substandard (for him) .253/.303/.434 slash line with 8 home runs over 201 plate appearances. 1.4 rWAR over 48-games is nothing to sneeze at – it still extrapolates out to 4.7 rWAR over 162.
Just two years into his 8-year, $260MM deal and there’s more uncertainty than ever around Arenado’s future in Colorado. His priority has been clear: he wants to play for a contender. Per Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, when questioned about whether making the playoffs this season would serve as proof of concept for the Rockies being on the right track, he answered, “No question for me. Eight teams (out of 15) make the playoffs and if we’re not one of those eight teams that’s not a very good sign.” The Rockies were already in a tough place payroll-wise, and after losing so much expected revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are likely entering an even harsher financial climate. Paired with the opt-out Arenado holds following the 2021 season, and a legitimate case can be made for the wisdom – or even necessity – of an Arenado trade.
The Rockies playoff hopes aren’t dead yet, however. Four games at San Francisco and four more at Arizona are winnable games to round out the season. Still, second place in the West is well out of reach, leaving the Rockies to compete for 1 of 2 wild card spots in a battle royal of contenders that includes two of the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers, two of the Phillies, Marlins, and Mets, and of course, the Giants. Two of those seven clubs will make the playoffs via the 2nd place slot in their divisions, leaving five teams the Rockies need to leapfrog in the final week of games in order to reach postseason play. A sweep of the Giants would put them a game ahead of San Francisco, but that’s a lot to expect from a team with a .316 winning percentage over their last 38 games.