The Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies are both off to terrific starts this season. While the Phillies were the "sexy" pick by the national media, the Rockies were a team that many felt had the potential to make the postseason.
The first 16 games of this season have many Rockie fans thinking much bigger than just an early exit from the postseason. They have raced to the best record in the National League thus far, and they have done so without Ubaldo Jimenez, a top-10 pitching talent in Major League Baseball, period.
The Rockies starting rotation went without a loss in their first nine games. Very impressive. Will the return of the Rockies ace boost an already solid starting rotation, or will the other starters take the foot off the gas pedal with their workhorse back in the mix?
We will find out in the coming weeks. Jimenez finally returned to the mound on Tuesday. He has been on the DL since injuring his thumb on Opening Day.
Baseball fans know how electric Jimenez's arm is, but are they worried about facing the Rockies in a potential NLCS matchup?
We may be looking at a small sample size here, but the Phillies have shown through their first 16 games that they are the class of the NL East (sorry Atlanta, but who's your daddy?). If they were to meet Colorado in a seven-game series, how would their four aces match up against the surprising Rockies, who have posted a solid 3.70 team ERA thus far?
If Jimenez can resemble anything close to the dominating pitcher he was before the All-Star break of last season (15-1, 2.20 ERA, three complete games, one no-hitter), are the Rockies a legitimate contender for the National League crown?
Does his 100-mph fastball match up to the surgical-like precision of the Doctor? Halladay showed last season that the bright lights of the postseason (or a pulled groin for that matter) will not stop him from embarrassing hitters and making Phillies Nation smile.
Colorado's young guns have pitched great through 16 games, but can the Rockies counter Lee, Oswalt or Hamels (oh my!) even with a healthy Jimenez taking the ball twice (possibly three times) in a seven-game series?
Everyone knows that baseball is a brutal 162-game grind and a team can lose a key player or pitcher at any time. Let's just say everyone stays healthy, and here are potential pitching matchups if the two teams square off in the NLCS this season.
The national media has fallen in love with this Rockies team and for good reason, but here is an early reality check for the "Rocky Mountain State." Cheer, cheer for the Red Wings.