Off to a franchise-best start, Rockies face reigning division champion Dodgers

Greg Holland has 14 saves, one fewer than the Rockies' team leader last season. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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).

Greg Holland, the NL reliever of the month for April, leads baseball with 14 saves. The most saves by a Rockies pitcher last season was 15, by Jake McGee.

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

First baseman Cody Bellinger hit his sixth home run of the season Wednesday, tying Yasiel Puig for the team lead. Bellinger has played in 14 games this season; Puig has played 33.

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.

All six of Bellinger’s home runs have come since April 29. The only player with more in that span is Yonder Alonso (seven). Brett Gardner also has six.

And Bellinger hasn’t played at Coors Field yet. But he will for the next four games.