Update: 1:24 MT
Here’s today’s lineups!
I’m a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late-1600s to trade with the Native Americans.#Rocktober pic.twitter.com/lPiQ0unBKR— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) October 4, 2018
By virtue of winning the National League Wild Card Game against the Cubs in Wrigley Field (you remember that, don’t you?), the Rockies have advanced to their first National League Division Series since 2009. They’ll open up that series this afternoon in Milwaukee against the NL Central champion Brewers.
Time: 5:07 p.m. ET (3:07 p.m. MT)
Location: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TV: FS1, FOX Deportes
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM; KNDV 1150 AM (Spanish) (in Colorado), stream on MLB At Bat app
How they got here
On September 19 the Rockies lost to the Dodgers 5-2 to fall 2 1⁄2 games off pace for a playoff spot. They went 9-1 in their next 10 to tie the Dodgers for the division lead and guarantee no worse than the second wild card. The Rockies lost the ensuing tiebreaker game in Los Angeles on October 1 (again, 5-2) and went to Chicago to play in the NL Wild Card Game on October 2. Of course, they won and are now in their fourth city in five days ready to start the NLDS.
The Brewers are even hotter. They went 20-7 in September in order to tie the Cubs for the division lead on the last day of the season. They won their tiebreaker, 3-1 in Wrigley on Monday, to earn their first division title since 2011.
The Rockies have faced a whirlwind this week while the Brewers haven’t traveled more than a bus ride from home and their fans will be ready to celebrate the first postseason game in Miller Park since the 2011 NLCS against the Cardinals.
The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela, who last pitched last Thursday afternoon against the Phillies, to the mound. He’s been in the rotation full time since July with up-and-down results. Since a seven-run blow up in St. Louis on August 24 he’s thrown 33 2⁄3 innings in six starts with a 2.94 ERA and a perfectly acceptable (for a back end starter) .256/.309/.450 line against him. He was shaky his last time out, allowing one run on five hits and three walks in 4 2⁄3 innings against a Phillies lineup that had scored five runs total in the previous four games. His only previous appearance in Milwaukee came in his major league debut on opening weekend of 2017, when he went five shutout innings while allowing just two hits, three walks, with six strikeouts.
In a somewhat unconventional move, the Brewers will counter with Johnny Wholestaff — a bullpen game. Rather than send out lefties Gio Gonzalez or Wade Miley on regular rest and risk the Rockies, who have a 106 wRC+ against lefties this season, tearing them up, manager Craig Counsell will piece together 27 outs some other way. It’s unclear who will begin the game on the mound, but Cousell will likely lean on guys like Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Taylor Williams for two or three innings at a time before handing off to the dominant back-end of the bullpen. He’ll have to be careful with who he rides and for how long, since he plans on riding Jhoulys Chacin on short rest on Friday as well.
To counter this strategy, manager Bud Black may stack the Rockies lineup with as many left-handed batters as possible to start the game. Expect a lineup featuring Carlos Gonzalez in right field, David Dahl in left, and Wild Card Game hero Tony Wolters behind the plate. Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story will anchor the lineup. Ian Desmond will likely play first.
The Brewers have been carried by their offense lately, riding a team 114 wRC+ (non-pitchers) in the second half. They’ll be led by MVP favorite Christian Yelich, who has hit an absurd .375/.513/.830 over the last month.
As soon as lineups are posted online this post will be updated with the tweets at the bottom.
The Brewers have the advantage in two ways. First, their bullpen has been lights out in September, posting a 1.72 ERA over their last 115 1⁄3 innings pitched, a full run lower than the next best team in that time. The bullpen has been a strength all season and, apparently, Counsell is going to stick with what get them here. Lefty Josh Hader, who pitched two innings on Monday, has been the most valuable reliever in the National League, with closer Jeremy Jeffress (who missed the tiebreaker game with an undisclosed injury) not far behind.
And while the Rockies have a 3.06 ERA over their last 94 innings (fourth best in baseball), they also threw 6 1⁄3 innings just on Tuesday while the Brewers were kicking up their feet. Adam Ottavino, Seunghwan Oh, Scott Oberg, and Wade Davis all threw at least 20 pitches each in that Wild Card Game, making the Brewers the more well rested relief corps.
The Rockies will need to light up the Brewers’ “openers,” much like the Yankees did to the Athletics on Wednesday, to take any advantage away from a crowd cheering for it’s first playoff game in 8 years. Even still, with neither team tossing their top pitching choice to start the game, this could be the most high scoring game of the series.
But don’t worry Rockies fans: they will definitely play another one tomorrow.