We are finally here! The National League Divisional series both kick off today as the Braves and Dodgers match up in one side of the bracket, and the Brewers host the Rockies in the other side. Most have the incumbent Dodgers as the favorites to win the National League for the second consecutive year, but this is why we play the games, to see who is really best! For today’s pick, I will break down the game between the Brewers and the Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies are in Milwaukee Thursday for game one of a best of five series with the Brewers. The Rockies have been run through the ringer in the last two weeks as they ran the table to the tune of winning nine out of their last regular season games to force a one-game playoff with the Dodgers for the NL West Division title. They then played, and lost, in Los Angeles and were then forced to head straight to Chicago for another one-game playoff, this time against the Cubs for the wild-card game. The Rockies won that game in a big upset, and now here they are in Milwaukee a day later to face the Brewers in the NLDS.
The Brewers had a crazy finish to the season as well as they played a one-game playoff against those very same Cubs to decide the National League Central Division race and were able to pick up the win and walk away division champs. The Brewers will now have home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, as they finished the season with the best record in the league.
Starting for the Brewers tonight in game one is Brandon Woodruff (0-0 0.00 ERA) and for the Rockies it is Antonio Senzatela (0-0 0.000 ERA). The Brewers are -142 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 2:07 PM PST from Miller Park in Milwaukee.
For my money, the Brewers are the best team in the National League right now. That hasn’t always been the case this season, but after making several trades to improve their squad, I strongly feel that the Brewers have the best team top to bottom. Many give that nod to the Dodgers, but when you look at how this team has played since they acquired guys like Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Schoop, and Gio Gonzalez, it is hard to deny them the top honors. And one guy that has been getting the job done all season long for Milwaukee is Christian Yelich.
Yelich is just days away from being named the National League MVP. Give all kinds of credit to guys like Javier Baez and Jacob deGrom, but it is Yelich that was the league’s best this season. Yelich finished the regular season hitting .326 with 36 home runs and 110 RBIs. He was actually in a spot in the eighth inning of game 163 with two men on base, where if he had hit a three-run home run, he would have taken the National League lead in homers and RBIs to go with his batting title. When you are one swing away from winning the triple crown, you know you had a really great season.
The Brewers are jumping on the recent trend of starting a bullpen by committee day in game one. And that is a bit surprising as Milwaukee has several capable pitchers to start this game. But when you look at the Brewer bullpen, it is hard to argue against the decision. Milwaukee has the fifth best bullpen in the majors this season by ERA, and they worked the fifth most innings. So, this bullpen is used to getting in lots of work, and they have a seemingly endless list of guys with nasty stuff coming out of their bullpen.
Brandon Woodruff will kick things off for the first inning or two, and this guy has been completely light’s out down the stretch. In September, Woodruff made seven appearances and had a 0.71 ERA, allowing just one earned run in twelve and a third innings pitched while striking out sixteen. The Brewers will likely keep a very tight leash on everyone tonight, but with their bullpen’s strength, it is going to be tough for the Rockies to get anything going.
The Rockies will turn to second-year man, Antonio Senzatela to try and steal the win in Milwaukee. Senzatela started his season working out of the Rockies bullpen and then missed two months of the season with an injury. When he made it back to the team, the Rockies decided to throw him into the rotation, and he has pitched fairly well.
Senzatela made thirteen starts for Colorado and had an ERA just above four runs, which isn’t terrible when you consider he pitches half of his games in Coors Field. The Rockies lost five out of his first eight starts but turned it up recently as they won four out of his five September starts to help push them into the playoffs.
This is a mismatch. The Colorado Rockies have had to put up with unprecedented travel and starting a guy like Senzatela, are essentially conceding this game one. The Rockies finished out the regular season playing ten straight days, all games they had to win. The final of which was in Colorado in the Mountain time zone. Then the day after the season ended they were forced to travel to the Pacific time zone to play a one-game playoff with the Dodgers in L.A. Then the very next day they had to travel to the Central time zone to play the Cubs in another one-game playoff. And now just one day later, they are playing at Milwaukee, the NL’s best team and number one overall seed.
It will be amazing if the Rockies even know what time it is and know up from down and left from right in this game. No team should have to take this type of punishment, and I see the Brewers as taking advantage of this tonight. I think the fact that Milwaukee is starting its bullpen is a direct reflection of them knowing they are getting way the best of this one and saving their starters for later in the series. I see the Brewers winning and winning easily. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers as -142 home favorites in game one!