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Rockies vs. Dodgers tiebreaker: How to watch and what to know for Game 163

The Rockies will play their second play-in game Monday, and the stakes are high

The Rockies and Dodgers will play a tie breaker Monday afternoon to determine who will win the National League West. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the game.

The stakes

Both the Rockies and Dodgers have clinched postseason spots, so it’s not a lose or go home scenario. A Rockies win would give them their first division title in team history. But it’s what comes with that title that really matters. If the Rockies lose, they’ll go on the road for an elimination game on Tuesday, either to Milwaukee or Chicago, depending on who wins the early tie breaker on Monday. A loss would mean the disadvantage of playing two road games in two different cities on consecutive days.

If the Rockies win the division, however, they’ll avoid the single-game elimination game on the road and instead play host to the Braves for a five game series starting on Thursday. The extra time off and the assurance to play a full series would also mean that Monday’s starting pitcher, German Márquez, would be guaranteed at least one postseason start. All of that is also true for the Dodgers and their Monday starting pitcher, Walker Buehler. It’s not an elimination game, but both teams have a ton to play for on Monday.

The starting pitchers

The 23-year-old Márquez is in the midst of a breakout season. He brings a four-seam fastball that averages around 95 mph and complements it with a devastating slider. The emergence of the latter pitcher is the major difference between the good starter Márquez was prior to this season and the outstanding one he became in 2018.

Márquez had notable platoon splits in 2018. While right-handed batters hit just .188/.251/.589 against him, lefties hit .290/.344/.783. That shouldn’t alter the Dodgers lineup too much, as their best left-handed hitters — Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy — were all likely going to start anyhow. It may just mean Alex Verdugo gets tabbed to start instead of Enrique Hernández.

Buehler, 24, is also a young star who broke out in 2018. He posted a 2.76 ERA in 130 23 innings while strikeout over over 10 batters per nine innings. Buehler has pitched against the Rockies a lot in 2018, even by the standards of divisional opponents. About 24% of Buehler’s innings in 2018 came against the Rockies across five starts. He had a 2.61 ERA in those innings and struck out about a batter per inning.

The story

When the Rockies visited the Dodgers from September 17-19, we called it the most important series of the season. The Dodgers ended up sweeping the Rockies and turned Colorado’s 0.5 game division lead into a 2.5 game deficit. It’s easy to look back at that series and say “if only the Rockies had won just one of those games, we wouldn’t have to play this tiebreaker.” That’s true, but it’s also true for any of the other 70 games the Rockies lost in 2018. A win on against the Dodgers in LA on Monday may help erase some of the memories of those bitter losses.

I can’t think of a better way for the Rockies to win their first NL West title.

The details

Start time: 2:09 p.m. MT

Television: ESPN

Stream: WatchESPN