Colorado Rockies Play Crucial Role in National League Playoff Picture

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer ISeptember 28, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 07:  Jordan Pacheco #22 of the Colorado Rockies hits into a double play in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The Colorado Rockies are playing meaningful games in late September. The problem for Rockies fans is that they are not meaningful for Colorado's playoff chances. But if they play well against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they could help wrap up the post season picture with just a few days to go.

Manager Jim Tracy has not seen his team above .500 since late April, and the team has been falling steadily month by month. September has been a total free fall.

The Rockies started the month 5-17 with a recent nine-game losing streak that put them at 94 losses for the season. The two worst teams in Rockies history, the original 1993 squad and the 2005 team, finished with 95 losses. The 2012 version has six games left to pass them.

But the Rockies discovered their winning ways with a sweep of the Cubs, one of the only two teams with a worse record.

Starting Friday, Sept. 28, they will go to Chavez Ravine to play the Dodgers, whose playoff hopes are razor thin.

Currently, the Dodgers are three games back of the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals for the final playoff spot. The champs are playing Washington, who are trying to secure the division title and avoid burning Gio Gonzalez in a one-game wild card playoff.

The Dodgers, watching the Rockies lose 16 of 18 recently, were probably drooling at the prospect of picking up a few wins or even a sweep when Colorado arrived.

If they pull within two games, then the final series of the season would be meaningful. The Dodgers would have a showdown against the division champion Giants. The Cardinals would be facing their division champion Reds.

The Rockies could spoil that if they find a way to win the series. If they can take two of three from the Dodgers, it would put them on the verge of elimination.

It would also all but wrap up the National League playoff picture and allow the Nationals, Reds, Giants, Braves and Cardinals to rest their starters and have their No. 1 pitchers ready to go for either the Wild Card game or the Divisional Series opener.

Jeff Francis is pitching Friday night against the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. The 2011 Cy Young winner is coming back from a hip injury that looked like would end his season. Nobody can say what kind of performance he can give Los Angeles Friday.

If the Rockies bats, led by a red-hot Jordan Pacheco, can get to him early, it could send the Dodgers spinning and possibly extend the Rockies winning streak to a season-high five games.

Saturday's game pits Tyler Chatwood against Joe Blanton. That is not exactly a match up of Cy Young hopefuls and could go either way.

Jorge De La Rosa faces Josh Beckett in the finale. De La Rosa looked pretty bad his first few starts. Josh Beckett has had some good starts and bad starts.

It might be a tough climb for the Rockies but these are the last meaningful games for them. They finish the season with three games against the Diamondbacks, so all of their energy can be focused on beating the Dodgers.

If they do, then the National League playoff picture could be set.

Who could have guessed this Rockies team would have this much influence on the season?