At long last (and let’s be real, doesn’t the MLB season feel like the longest wait?), the MLB Postseason is upon us. The Yankees and Twins got things started in fine fashion, and now the National League gets the solo stage with the Wildcard matchup between the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
These two teams are no strangers, having met 19 times this season already with the Diamondback holding an 11 to 8 edge. But in a one game do-or-die situation, the season records become irrelevant. It all starts on the mound with a pair of franchise-cornerstone starting pitchers.
That is the first disadvantage for the Rockies. Jon Gray is a fine pitcher and has had a fine season. But more than any other postseason participant, Colorado lacks that dominating #1 ACE. Suffice it to say, Arizona doesn’t. Zack Greinke has had a bounce-back fantastic 2017 season, and will get the ball in the game Arizona brass imagined when they broke the bank for him prior to the 2016 season. It might be a year later than expected, but Arizona is here now, with one game at home – ace on the mound – to set up an NLDS matchup against their rival Dodgers.
First things first. Can the Diamondbacks be big in the moment and handle their business as heavy favorites tonight in Phoenix?
Today’s MLB Pick:
NATIONAL LEAGUE WILDCARD GAME:
Colorado Rockies +150 vs. Arizona Diamondback -165 (Total:8.5)
Jon Gray vs. Zack Greinke
These two teams know each other pretty well. Not only are they are division foes, but they also spend their Spring next door as well, sharing a property line for the training facilities. These two neighbors and familiar foes will play the most meaningful game in their two decade-plus rivalry.
The Diamondback went 11-8 head-to-head this season, but enter having won nine of the last 13 matchups and with much better August/September momentum.
Rockies offense is potent and can never be counted out, but the ‘Backs have a big edge on the mound, at least on the surface. I think nearly anyone would take Greinke over Gray, but Gray did win two of his three starts against Arizona this season. He struck out a season-high 10 in each of his winning starts, but he is just 2-2 with a 4.75 ERA in five career starts versus the Diamondbacks overall.
Meanwhile, Greinke reemerged as a fringe Cy Young candidate this season on the strength of a 17-7 record and 3.20 ERA. He went 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts against Colorado with four quality starts and the other falling a few outs short, but meeting the “runs allowed” requirement. He handled the Rockies, even in Colorado – no easy feat – and he will be looking to recreate the magic again tonight.
I think he will. Both of these lineups can score runs. The Rockies led the NL in runs scored with 824, Arizona was in fourth, just 12 runs behind. Colorado had a better batting average and OBP, but Arizona was actually a point higher in slugging. But the combination of home field and Greinke is a BIG edge. And one I think Arizona takes advantage of tonight.
The line isn’t my favorite, but with only one game to choose from, there’s no time to get cute. I’ll take the better pitcher at home.
Today’s MLB Pick: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS TO WIN -165