For those of you that have been under a rock the last twenty-four hours, I will get you up to speed real quick. After 162 games of regular season baseball we had a tie for not one, but two of the National League Divisions. The Central Division features a tie between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers and the West Division is all tied up between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies. Both of these divisions will be decided today in a rare game 163! This is the first time in MLB history that two divisions will need an extra game to decide things in the same season. For this article, we will break down the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies!
The Colorado Rockies will travel to Los Angeles Monday for a one-game playoff to decide which team wins the National League West Division title. The winner of this game will host the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the playoffs, while the loser must go on the road for a one-game wild-card playoff against the loser of the Cubs and Brewers game to try and play themselves back into the playoffs.
Starting for the Dodgers is rookie Walker Buehler (7-5 2.76 ERA), and for the Rockies, it is German Marquez (14-10 3.76 ERA). The Dodgers are -167 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:09 PM PST from Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.
I am going to be completely honest here, I am a little surprised to see these two pitchers matched up in such a big game. I’m not hating on Walker Buehler or German Marquez here, but both teams have better guys that will be sitting on the bench watching in this one. Its almost as both teams are saving their best for the actual playoffs, and not for today’s positioning only game. Make no mistake, this game is very important, but it seems that both squads are at least somewhat content having a middle of the rotation guy starting today and saving their best for later.
Walker Buehler has been really good down the stretch this season for L.A. In August and September, he is 3-1 with an ERA below two runs. He has allowed two runs or fewer in all, but one of those ten starts and he hasn’t allowed any runs in four of those games. Buehler pitched against these Rockies a little over a week ago, and he threw six innings, didn’t allow an earned run, and struck out a career-high twelve. Buehler has seen a lot of the Rockies this year and has been a bit up and down.
In three of those starts, he pitched a combined twenty innings and allowed just one earned run. In the other two starts, he gave up eight earned runs in just eleven innings of work. As is the case for most young guys, Buehler has pitched much better at home this season. His home ERA is 2.12, a full run lower than his road ERA. Opposing batters are hitting just .184 against Buehler in Dodgers Stadium.
German Marquez is another guy that has been turning it up in the second half of the season. After not striking out double-digit batters in a game once in his first twenty-two starts of the year, Marquez has now struck out at least ten or more in six out of his last ten starts. That strong finish put him over the 200 punchout mark on the season.
And he hasn’t just been striking people out either. He is 5-1 in his last six decisions, and the Rockies won four out of his five September starts to help push them into the playoffs. In September, Marquez has forty-eights K’s in just thirty-three and two-thirds of an inning pitched. This guy has really been sitting them down in the last several weeks.
This is about as even of a game as you are ever going to find. The Rockies record in September against all teams other than the Dodgers? 18-4. Against L.A in September? 1-5. This Rockies team can beat anybody, except the Dodgers right now. They played in Dodger Stadium in a huge three-game series two weeks ago and got swept. There is just something about this Dodger team that the Rockies just can’t figure out.
Now, when you look at the number, it is certainly a bit too high. This game is no more than -130 for sure. But in a situation like today where it is just a one-game playoff, and there is no tomorrow, you look less at the overall value the number is offering, and more at who is going to win the game. And I just don’t see the Colorado Rockies walking into Dodgers Stadium for a must-win game and beating the boys in blue.
It just isn’t going to happen. This Dodgers team took a while to get things figured out this season, but now that they are healthy I expect them to contend to get back to another World Series this season. That all starts today with handling business at home against the Rockies. The number is not where I like it, but I still feel like this is the Dodgers game to lose. Give me the Ls Angeles Dodgers -167 today in game 163 from Dodger Stadium!