Yes, Broncos are at camp, but Rockies are relevant | VailDaily.com

Yes, Broncos are at camp, but Rockies are relevant

Chris Freud
KRISTIN ANDERSON |

This would be the time of year where one would make a joke about Colorado Rockies fans waking up from their nap to pay attention to the Broncos reporting for camp on Thursday.

Except, well, the Rockies are in the hunt for the postseason. Were the season to end today, we would have Rocktober, Colorado in the playoffs.

Going into Thursday night’s game at Washington, the Rockies are holding down the second-wild-card spot in the National League.

The Rockies made a deal on Wednesday night, acquiring Phillies reliever Pat Neshek for three prospects, in attempt to bolster the bullpen. You never know with these deals as they can come back to haunt a franchise — the Red Sox received relief-pitcher Larry Anderson from the Astros in 1990 for some guy named Jeff Bagwell — but that’s a risk a general manager has to make.

Given where the Rockies play half their games, and the trends of the season, bullpen help is a good move for the team, risks of trading youngsters aside,

And, let’s face it; it’s downright exciting for the Rockies to be in a race in July and seeing management being active to improve the team.

The deal, while not a blockbuster — and sometimes a blockbuster isn’t necessary — begs two questions.

Can the Rockies hang on and make the playoffs and when is the right time to go all in?

The case for the Rockies

Colorado has defied all expectations in staying in the race. The starting rotation continues to struggle eating innings. As good as Tyler Chatwood has been this season, he’s walked 62 batters in 107 innings pitched. That eats into pitch count and forces manager Buddy Black to make moves.

In fairness to the Rockies’ staff, it’s a young crew. Young pitchers with good stuff often struggle with control. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who is the best pitcher in the game right now, walked a stunning 91 batters during his first full season in 2009.

While no one on the Rockies’ staff appears to be the next Kershaw, there is talent here, and this may pass.

The Rockies’ history of road woes also appear to have returned of late — granted against some of the NL’s best.

Yet all that said, the Rockies could well make the dance because it seems that we’ve got three teams for two wild cards — the Rockies, the Diamondbacks and the Brewers. We’re going on the assumption that the Cubs have woken up and will win the Central.

Like the Rockies, no one expected the Brewers or the Diamondbacks to be relevant at this point of the season. All three teams bash the ball and don’t have dominant starters with the exception of Arizona’s Zack Greinke.

This is a wide-open race, folks.

Why not?

Yes, the Dodgers and Astros are the favorites to meet in the Fall Classic, but we’re in a different era of the postseason. The best teams don’t necessarily win, and if Kershaw isn’t back to full strength from his back injury by the postseason, then all L.A. bets are off.

Six times the wild card has won the whole thing and, even with the new format of the play-in game, the 2014 World Series was between wild-card squads.

Yes, this is a gratuitous mention that the San Francisco Giants won that year, but it also illustrates the point that strange things happen in October. Madison Bumgarner became a pitching god and the rest is history.

Rockies fans know this first-hand. Ten years ago, the Rockies became hot in September and rolled that into the franchise’s only World Series appearance.

During the past 10 years, only three times has the best team by win-loss record — the 2009 Yankees, the 2013 BoSox and last year’s Cubs — won the Series.

I am more and more of the mind of rolling the dice of going for it when you’ve got a shot at the postseason, even if you’re a team entering as a wild card, likely the Rockies’ scenario.

I don’t know if Colorado has any more plans before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but I’d consider it.