The Rockies didn't play tonight, so for once I get to feel guilt-free about missing their game. It's a good thing for Denver they were out of town this week, since from all reports I've heard the entire stretch of I-25 from Coors Field to Invesco has been locked down for the convention. Livan Hernandez did indeed lose last night, although he didn't pitch all that badly. The Rockies ran into the buzzsaw that is Tim Lincecum, whose starts alone down the stretch could indirectly decide the division. If the Dodgers manage to (ahem) dodge Lincecum in their six remaining games against San Francisco, and the Diamondbacks can't in their seven, that could be the difference right there. If you miss Lincecum on the schedule, there's a fairly good chance you're going to sweep the Giants.
I went out on the town last night, something I do extremely infrequently, and I was quite surprised by how many people I ran into who asked me if I knew the Rockies were only 5 1/2 back (which they were at the time, Arizona having lost and the Colorado-San Francisco game having not been completed). Perhaps I have been overstating the degree to which the wave of Rockies enthusiasm which appeared out of whole cloth last September has dissipated. Also, it might just be that my friends all know I'm a Rockies blogger. I hope it's the former.
Trouble is -- I've written the Rockies off already this year. Granted, I did so last season too (in April) and that turned out well. But just because a one in a million bet actually paid off in 2007 doesn't mean that the underlying analyis was wrong. Colorado didn't really have enough starting pitching to be a playoff team last year, as evidenced by the results in the World Series, and they sure don't have enough last year. I know enough about probability to know that dice don't have memory. Just because the Rockies made an improbable comeback last season doesn't make them any more likely to make an even more unlikely one this season. Unlikely in the sense not that they're further back than they were last season, or that there's more teams ahead of them. In fact neither of those statements are true. But the underlying stats in '07, particularly run differential, indicated that the Rockies had been underperforming relative to their true ability level for almost the whole year. This year's team has gotten somewhat worse offensively and substantially worse on the mound, and their firmly negative run differential represents this.
For a Rockies team that isn't as good as last year's to make another out-of-left-field run would be Johnny Van Der Meer improbable. It would be Mike Brown returning interceptions for OT touchdowns in two consecutive games improbable. Don't count on it, is what I'm saying. But you can keep asking me, because I'd rather be talking pessimistically about the Rockies than not talking about them at all.