DENVER -- The Dodgers finished April with a 16-7 record and a 3 1/2-game lead in the National League West. But what does that mean? Well, a strong start didn't mean much for the Rockies last year. They were 17-9 after April, but by season's end were in fourth place at 73-89. "So much for [17-9], right?" Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Early struggles by starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who didn't win until June 1, a season-ending elbow injury to lefty starter Jorge De La Rosa and a team-wide hitting slump led to an 8-21 May that wiped away any good feelings from April. A look at the last five seasons reveals that the leader at the end of April did not win the division three times, and sometimes a team struggling through the first month ended up in the playoffs. The Rockies were 10-16 in April 2007 and 8-12 in April 2009, and made the playoffs each year. "What it boils down to is this, is you have to be mindful that the season isn't one month long," Tracy said. "It's six. One good month does not a good season make. You run into pitfalls, whether it's early or late. "As [current White Sox manager] Robin Ventura said when he played for me [with the Dodgers], over the course of 162 games, all 30 teams will step into a pothole. The key to the success and, or failure of your season is more times than not the teams that figure out quicker than others how to get ... out of the pothole."