Beginning Thursday night in Denver, the Colorado Rockies face the Los Angeles Dodgers, the reigning National League West champions. The Rockies enter the four-game series with a 1½-game lead over the Dodgers.
Los Angeles has won four consecutive NL West titles, the longest active division-title streak in the majors and a franchise-best streak for playoff berths. The Rockies have never won the division, whereas the Dodgers have won it eight times since Colorado entered the majors in 1993.
The challengers: Colorado
The Rockies (22-13) are off to their best 35-game start in franchise history. They’ve won at least 20 games through the first 35 three times before but did not make the playoffs in any of those seasons (1997, 2006, 2014).
After a 16-10 record in April, the Rockies are 6-3 in May. They’ve never had a winning record in April and May in the same season.
The story of the series: the bullpen
The Rockies are 9-0 in one-run games — tied for the most wins in one-run games in the majors (with the Angels, who are 9-7) and the only team without a loss in one-run games.
Last season the Rockies won 12 one-run games all season (went 12-20).
Holland was an All-Star closer for the Royals in 2013 and 2014. He suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament late in the 2015 season and missed 2016 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He signed a one-year contract with the Rockies in the offseason for $7 million.
The defenders: Los Angeles
The Dodgers are 10-2 after April 26, the best winning percentage (.833) in the majors in that span. They were 10-12 (.455) through April 26, which was tied for 19th in the majors.
The story of the series: Cody Bellinger
Bellinger’s six home runs in his first 14 career games are tied with Matt Kemp for the most in Dodgers history in a player’s first 14 games.
And Bellinger hasn’t played at Coors Field yet. But he will for the next four games.