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For the first time since 2009, and for only the fourth time in franchise history, the Colorado Rockies are going to the playoffs. After starting the season hot and then slumping down the stretch, the Rockies narrowly hung on to claim the final National League Wild Card spot.
They secured the playoff berth—with the help of a Milwaukee Brewers loss Saturday afternoon—by drubbing division rival and potential playoff opponent the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-1 Friday night. The team will celebrate the accomplishment during two final regular season games at Coors Field as a season that has trended downwards since the middle of the summer will be extended for at least one more game. The Rockies will meet the Arizona Diamondbacks for a one-game winner-take-all playoff game Wednesday, October 4 at Chase Field in Phoenix. If they beat the Diamondbacks they will face the Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series (NLDS).
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On Father’s Day in June, third baseman Nolan Arenado hit for the cycle—capped by a walk-off home run—to push the Rockies record to 46-26. At 20 games over .500, and with the team off to the best start in franchise history, the possibility of Rocktober descending upon Coors Field felt inevitable. (Well, at least about as imminent as it has ever felt that early in the season. We see you skeptical Rockies fans.) At the same time, the Rockies found themselves in the middle of the most compelling race in baseball as three National League West teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Dodgers, had three of the top four records in all of Major League Baseball.
The torrid start had a great deal to do with dominant hitting from the top half of the Rockies lineup. All-Stars Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and DJ LaMahieu led one of the best offenses in baseball, and Arenado and Blackmon hovered near the top of almost every major offensive category while also being included in the MVP conversation for the entirety of the season.
During the second half of the summer, though, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers pulled away in the National League West race as the Rockies struggled to hold off the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals for the final Wild Card spot. A club that once looked like it might easily surpass the franchise record of 90 wins—oh, what a magical run 2007 was—sputtered to what will at most be 89 wins.
Even though the second half of the season has not gone as planned, Rockies fans still have reason to be excited about the club’s playoff prospects. Much like they have all season, the team will rely heavily on the hitters in the first part of their lineup. If the bats are popping, they will be a formidable opponent—especially at home, where they have been dominant in the high altitude of Coors Field all season.