Nolan Arenado challenged himself and his Colorado Rockies teammates when he said Tuesday that it would be unacceptable for them not to be one of the eight National League teams to make the postseason.
"If we're not one of those eight teams, that's not a very good sign," the third baseman said. "Our goal is to get in the playoffs every year, but with eight teams, we've got to find a way to fight to get in."
With 12 games left in the regular season, Colorado is currently out of a playoff spot and facing a tough road ahead with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming to town for a four-game series beginning Thursday. The Rockies have struggled to beat their NL West rivals, but did take two of three in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Colorado (22-26) will open the series with left-hander Kyle Freeland on the mound. He will oppose another southpaw, Julio Urias, to begin the Rockies' final home series of the shortened season.
Freeland (2-1, 3.54 ERA) will make his 12th career start against the Dodgers, a team against which he has had mixed results in his 11 previous starts. In those outings he is 2-4 with a 4.29 ERA -- 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA at home.
His recent record mirrors the struggles the team has had against the reigning NL West champs. He is 0-1 with a 5.89 ERA in his past four starts against L.A. and has not beaten the Dodgers since Sept. 8, 2018, at Coors Field. He has a no-decision in his only start this year, a 4-3 loss at Dodger Stadium.
It won't matter how well he pitches if the offense can't get going. Colorado has scored just nine runs in its last four games, including a 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
"It's frustrating for the guys," manager Bud Black said after Wednesday's game. "They're coming back to the dugout angry, frustrated, but just got to keep going. Hopefully we'll catch a little lightning, continue on and everybody gets hot."
The Rockies have had success in the past against Urias (3-0, 3.53). In nine appearances -- six starts -- against Colorado, Urias is 0-1 with a 6.29 ERA. Half of those starts have come at Coors Field, where he holds a 7.71 ERA in five games.
Urias started one game against the Rockies this year, a 7-6 loss in L.A. on Sept 6, but got a no-decision after giving up four runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers (35-15) are rolling toward their eighth straight division title despite some roster upheaval. Outfielder Joc Pederson was placed on the family medical emergency leave list before Wednesday's 7-5 win at San Diego and an MRI exam revealed lefty Caleb Ferguson suffered damage to his UCL in his left elbow.
Ferguson faced one Padres batter on Tuesday before leaving, and he returned to L.A. to have the MRI exam.
The Dodgers did get third baseman Justin Turner back against the Padres after he missed three weeks with a hamstring injury. Manager Dave Roberts said he will be conservative in his use of Turner before the playoffs.
"We told him to put the governor on and be smart," Roberts on Tuesday. "It's more about getting him in the lineup, getting at-bats to get his timing down. As we get toward the postseason, as long as we can net positive each day, he'll continue to get better. To expect him to let out a double, that's the cost of us having him in the lineup for these first few days."
--Field Level Media