Friars on Base staff predicts National League Wild Card Game
Tonight, two National League West rivals square off in an elimination game. Having a good degree of knowledge on both squads, the Friars on Base staff makes their predictions, beginning with Diane Calkins.
The Arizona Diamondbacks led the wild-card race in the National League for weeks, while the Colorado Rockies fought for traction toward the end of the season. On September 30, a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers assured the Rockies a matchup with the D-Backs.
Both teams play in the National League West and have faced one another 19 times. The Diamondbacks won 11 of those games, but were 5-5 in their home park Chase Field, where the game will be played on Wednesday, October 4
Zack Greinke will start for Arizona. He rebounded from a sub-par first year in the desert, pitching over 200 innings with a 17-7 record, 3.20 ERA, and 1.072 WHIP. The 33-year-old veteran will face Jon Gray, 25, who will be making his first playoff appearance. Gray has a 10-4 record, 3.67 ERA, and 1.296 WHIP.
Both pitchers will have to face formidable lineups, with Paul Goldschmidt (an MVP candidate) and mid-summer addition J.D. Martinez leading the D-Backs. However, Goldschmidt has yet to get a hit off Gray in just 11 at-bats.
Rockies hitters DJ LeMahieu (.311/.311/.444) and Nolan Arenado (277/.306/.447) have fared well against Greinke. But all season Colorado hitters have thrived in their home ballpark, Coors Field, and struggled on the road.
Both teams have the pitching and offense to win, but Arizona has a slight edge thanks to their experienced ace, Greinke, as well as home field advantage.
The 2017 National League Wild Card game features two NL Western rivals. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will face off in Arizona on Wednesday night at 5pm PST. Jon Gray(10-4) of the Rockies will face Zack Greinke (17-7) of the Diamondbacks.
The one-game wild card playoff creates an interesting situation for both clubs. Due to higher quality pitching and home field advantage, Arizona should win this game. Greinke is a veteran that has pitched in 9 postseason games with a respectable 3.55 postseason ERA. The key for Greinke is to avoid Nolan Arenado, who hit .375 against him in 2017. An advantage for Greinke is that he has held MVP candidate Charlie Blackmon to a .188 avg this season. The Diamondbacks also have a bullpen weapon in Archie Bradley, who dominated in 2017 with a 1.73 ERA.
Expect a big game from David Peralta, who is hitting .462 off of Gray in his career. The D-Backs also have a secret weapon in J.D. Martinez. In just six career at-bats against Gray, Martinez is hitting .333 with two home runs and four RBI’s. Not to mention, Martinez hit .404 with 16 home runs in the month of September. On the Rockies side, expect a big game from Carlos Gonzalez, who is hitting .333 off of Greinke in his career with 5 home runs.
In what is sure to be an entertaining playoff game tonight, the Diamondbacks and Rockies will square off with the right to face the 104-58 Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series.
More from Friars on Base
- Jurickson Profar free agency update likely rules out Padres reunion
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
Anything can happen in a single game playoff, but there is a clear favorite in this one. All signs point to an Arizona victory, from the strength of their lineup to their experienced starter in Zach Greinke. While the Rockies do have an explosive offense, their numbers are somewhat skewed by the hitter friendly nature of their home park. Traveling to Arizona will eliminate this factor, and make matters more difficult for the lineup.
Most of all, Arizona’s home field advantage is a clear benefit to a club who has had so much success at Chase Field. Winning 52 games there and losing just 29, the odds are in their favor to knock off a talented but inexperienced Rockies team tonight and make their return to the postseason a successful one to start off.
Next: 2017 final edition of top 30 prospects
With the winner of this game facing yet another NL West team in the Dodgers, there is plenty of reason for Padres fans to be paying attention this postseason as their foes duke it out. There’s nothing quite like a wild card single elimination game, especially when it involves two clubs from the best division in baseball.