NL West: The race is on
The Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks keep the division race tight with three weeks to go.
It feels like 2007 all over again. Much like September of that year, three NL West teams were fighting for the division title, and it took the whole month for a division winner to be declared. Eleven years later, the NL West is in a similar situation minus the San Diego Padres being in the mix. The Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks still have hope in clinching a postseason berth.
Only three and a half games separate the three rivals and each team has one matchup remaining with the other before the season ends. September has never been more important for these three teams. The Dodgers are looking to clinch their sixth straight division title and second consecutive NL Pennant. The Rockies, who lead the division, are looking for their first division title in franchise history and first back-to-back postseason appearances. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are looking to win the division and make a further run at the World Series than last year.
A lot is at stake, but all three clubs are in the picture for the postseason with three weeks left. With that said, let’s recap how each club did last week.
Rockies keep hold of first place
Colorado entered last week in first place in the division and they could keep first by the skin of their teeth. A three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants gave the team momentum going into the weekend when they hosted the Dodgers for three games. Though they lost two of three, the Rockies held their own against Los Angeles, who have seemed to get into a groove over the last couple of weeks.
The Rockies started this week off with a four-game series against the Diamondbacks, finishing a ten game home stand with NL West rivals. They’ll open a ten game road trip in San Francisco this Friday. This week’s series with the Diamondbacks will be a key one if the club wants to stay on top of the division. A series split has to be the worst the Rockies do, especially with the Dodgers playing the Cincinnati Reds, who sit at the bottom of the NL Central, and the St. Louis Cardinals this week. Fortunately, Colorado established momentum quickly with a 13-2 win last night.
Dodgers recover after a rocky start
The Dodgers are in the thick of the postseason race. The Rockies have them on the edge as their streak of five consecutive division titles is on the line but had they not recovered in Colorado, the story would be different. After winning three out of four against the Diamondbacks at home, the Dodgers dropped two out of three to the New York Mets, putting them a game and a half behind the Rockies going into last weekend’s series. Thankfully, the Dodgers bounced back in Denver but had the series against the Mets gone how it should have, they’d likely have the NL West lead.
The Dodgers started this week in Cincinnati and close out in St. Louis in what could be a potential NL Wild Card matchup. With the Rockies playing NL West teams and the Diamondbacks playing two division leaders, the Dodgers can take hold of the division lead as long as they don’t fool around like they did with the Mets. The Cardinals will be a must-see matchup this weekend but they must first take care of business with the Reds, who swept them at Dodger Stadium in a four-game series in June.
Diamondbacks lose grip of postseason shot
The Diamondbacks have the toughest schedule in terms of opposition. In fact, September has never been more difficult for the team. They opened the month by losing three out of four to the Dodgers and then split a two-game series with the last-place Padres at home. To make matters worse, they lost three out of four to the Atlanta Braves thanks to bullpen struggles and defensive miscues. In fact, only one starting pitcher has recorded a loss in September, meaning the bullpen has been letting the team down during the most important stretch of baseball in franchise history.
It gets no easier for the Diamondbacks this week. They opened a seven-game road trip in Denver last night in their quest to reclaim the division lead. Following their series in Denver, they head down to Houston to take on the AL West-leading Astros. They took two out of three from Houston in May but since 2014, the Diamondbacks are 3-6 at Minute Maid Park. If the Diamondbacks fail to back their pitchers with consistent offense, they could go from being a postseason favorite to missing the postseason altogether, much like 2008 and 2013.