Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Rockies news and analysis for Sunday, September 27, 2020
Today the Rockies will play their final baseball game of the 2020 season. Speaking for myself, good riddance.
Don’t get me wrong, those first two weeks were incredibly fun, especially after waiting an extra three months to even start the season. But the fact that the team is 25-33 (pending Saturday’s result) tells you just how ugly things have been since then (refer to my Rockpile last week for the details). Frankly, I’d just as soon forget that this season happened.
There will be plenty of offseason to get into the nitty gritty details about how and why the 2020 Rockies failed so spectacularly after their hot start. There was a lot of ineffectiveness to go around but, as Thomas Harding points out in the article linked below, Nolan Arenado and David Dahl trying to play through injuries hurt the whole situation. But, again, there will be plenty of time to explore that in the next several months.
Instead, if Jim Mora will allow it, I’d like to talk about the playoffs. No, the Rockies won’t be participating, but there is some fun to be had for us non-partisans watching. Since there are a full 16 teams participating this year, I’ll go ahead and save the annual rooting guide for next week when we’re down to eight teams and instead focus on the first round.
What’s the format?
MLB and the players association agreed to an expanded playoff structure just for this year and it’s going to be bananas. The first round will feature four best-of-three series in each league. The division winners are the top three seeds, the second-place teams in each division will be the next three, and the final two spots go to the teams with the best third place records.
The top four seeds will host all three games, alternating who plays as the home team. The winners will go onto the Division Series, which will be held in Southern California for the AL and in Texas for the NL. The ALCS will be played at Petco Park in San Diego and the NLCS and World Series will be held at the brand-new Globe Life Park in Arlington, where the Rockies opened the season.
Going into the final day of the season, there is still quite a few things up in the air.
What to watch for on Sunday
With one day left, 14 of the 16 playoff spots are locked up. But the matchups are far from settled. The Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, and Padres have the no. 1-4 seeds in the NL, respectively. The Rays have the no. 1 seed and the Astros the no. 5 seed in the AL (even though they have the eighth best record in the AL thanks to a weak AL West). Everything else is up in the air. In fact, it’s so up in the air that the Cardinals and Tigers are may have to play a make-up double-header on Monday to complete the playoff picture.
With so much riding on one day, nine of the 15 games have direct playoff implications. Pay close attention to the Twins–Reds, Cubs-White Sox, and Indians–Pirates matchups. A White Sox win with Twins loss elevates Chicago to the no. 2 seed, pending the Athletics–Mariners game; a loss with an Indians win drops them to the seventh seed.
The Brewers, Cardinals, Phillies, and Giants are all vying for the last two spots in the NL, while the Reds and Marlins can each still claim the no. 5 spot (with the prize of facing the Padres, which might not be that much of a prize). The winner of today’s Brewers-Cardinals game will clinch a spot, while the Giants and Phillies each need a win to stay alive. The only way Philadelphia gets in is if they win AND the Giants and Brewers lose. If the Cardinals lose, and the Giants win, St Louis will have to play that double-header to see which of them earns that no. 8 seed. Thus, your #TeamEntropy games of the day are Cardinals-Brewers and Giants-Padres, since tiebreakers are settled by head-to-head record and then intra division record.
Oh, and to make things extra fun, every game starts around 1 pm MT (except the Tigers-Royals game, which starts at 11 am for some reason). So everything will be happening concurrently. If you want a more complete picture, MLB.com has you covered.
The Wild Card Round
As such, it makes it a bit difficult to fully preview the Wild Card round. But chaos awaits there as well, since they are each a best-of-three series, so none of those top teams are safe, not even the Dodgers. They could face the Giants, which would be the first time the archrivals faced each other in the playoffs—ever.
There is a high likelihood we’ll see several divisional matchups. The Rays have the no. 1 seed and face either the Yankees or the Blue Jays. If an AL Central team takes the no.2 seed, they’ll face a division rival, which would be perfect considering how neck-and-neck they have been all season. In that scenario, the Athletics would face the Astros in a best-of-three.
The National League is a little bit more open ended, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the Cardinals. If St. Louis loses today, they could be eliminated from the playoffs after the first game of the doubleheader, which would be awkward for everyone.
We’ll know more by this time next week. The wild card round is set to take place with the AL games starting Tuesday and the NL on Wednesday, all games on TBS or ESPN. They’ll all be done by Friday with the division series set to begin on Monday. Tune back in next week and we’ll go through everything relating to the second round.
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Thomas Harding talked to Bud Black and some players to get an early postmortum on the season. He also lays out some of the challenges facing the team in the offseason.
If you want the full, detailed recap of what is at stake on the final day of the season, MLB has all the scenarios covered.
Legalized sports betting was supposed to begin in June in Colorado, but the coronavirus threw those plans off. Kevin Larson was able to speak with DraftKings Head of Sportsbook Johnny Avello to get some details on what Rockies fans might be able to expect next year.
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