Manager: Bud Black (2nd season)
Last 10 games: 7-3 (update)
Who to watch: 3B Nolan Arenado (.296/.374/.545 with 34 HR, 105 RBIs), SS Trevor Story (.291/.346/.562 with 35 HR, 105 RBIs, 26 SB), CF Charlie Blackmon (.287, 26 HR), 2B DJ LeMahieu (15 HR, 61 RBIs), 1B Ian Desmond (21 HR, 86 RBIs), RHP Kyle Freeland (16-7, 2.84 ERA), RHP Wade Davis (42 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: 3-1
Sept. 28: RHP Joe Ross (0-1) vs. LHP Kyle Freeland (16-7), 8:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 29: RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-7) vs. TBA, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 30: TBA vs. TBA, 3:10 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Rockies:
There will be no coasting into October for the Rockies, who enter the regular season’s last weekend in first place in the National League West with a one-game lead over the Dodgers and a magic number of three. That could also affect how Nationals manager Davey Martinez will approach his team’s final series of 2018. Chances are the Nationals won’t be trotting out anything but their top names as long as the Rockies are still competing; if the clinch or are eliminated, the Nats may give their frontline players a rest. Either way, the Rockies are closing the season on a hot streak, winning seven straight and outscoring the fading Phillies 39-7 during a four-game sweep. Remember a few winters ago when Bud Black seemed to be Nats’ choice as their new manager before the team reversed course and signed Dusty Baker? Things have worked out well for Black, who will get strong consideration for National League Manager of the Year.
Colorado possesses plenty of pop in its lineup, starting with third baseman Nolan Arenado, who offers a .296/.374/.545 slash line with 34 homers and 105 RBIs. Shortstop Trevor Story has dealt with an elbow injury lately, but is tied for the team RBI lead with 105 and has crushed 35 home runs. Center fielder Charlie Blackmon had a 17-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday, but he’s still hitting .344 in September. Blackmon and Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Duke Snider are the only center fielders in major league history to have at least three straight seasons with 100 runs scored and 25 home runs. Former National Ian Desmond has been hot in September, batting .287 (25-for-87) and second baseman DJ LeMahieu has driven in 15 runs in September, and has hits in 19 of his past 25 games.
Past Friday night starter Kyle Freeland, the Rockies rotation for the weekend series is undecided, but it won’t be surprising to see them trot out decent starters for as long as they need to win games to secure a postseason spot. Freeland has enjoyed a stellar sophomore season and the left-hander is on the periphery of Cy Young Award contention with a 16-7 record and 2.84 ERA. He’s gone 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his past 10 starts, and hasn’t lost since Aug. 1. Freeland has made two career starts against the Nationals, going 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA. It wouldn’t be surprising to see righties Jon Gray or Chad Bettis start the season’s final two games, but that could change if the Rockies face a win-and-get-in scenario. Gray is 6-1 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 starts since June 22, with the Rockies going 12-3 in those starts. Bettis hasn’t won since June 15, but has made only six starts among his 12 appearances since. He started and lasted only 2 2/3 innings in a 10-3 win over the Phillies on Monday.
Closer Wade Davis leads the NL with 42 saves and has set the Rockies single-season record.