Tyler Anderson is set to start game two of the NLDS tonight. But, because the Rockies lost the first game of the series, that may not be the right strategy. Instead, it may be better to opt for German Márquez on short rest. There are two simple reasons: Márquez is better and more reliable than Anderson, and starting Márquez on Friday sets up the rotation for the remainder of the series remarkably well.
Anderson has had an up and down season, and he may be getting the start on Friday because his most recent swing has been “up.” He only gave up four runs in his final three starts of 2018, spanning 19 2⁄3 innings. Contrast that to the three starts prior: 13 runs allowed in 8 2⁄3 innings. In the up stretch, Anderson also only allowed one home run. That’s particularly notable because Anderson has been prone to the long ball this season. Instead of slicing up his season in starts of three, we can simply note that Anderson allowed 30 home runs over the course of the season, which was tied for most in the National League. The Brewers hit the second most home runs in 2018, behind the Dodgers.
Márquez, in contrast, hasn’t had a bad start since late June and has put together one of the best pitched seasons in team history. If Márquez were to get the nod for Friday’s game, he’d be going on short rest; however, he only threw 84 pitches in that game. That’s a full start, and the rest would still be short, but he’d very likely be ready to go if asked.
Most significantly, starting Márquez on short rest Friday would set up the rotation in the best possible way for the remainder of the series. Here’s how it currently stands:
Friday: Tyler Anderson
Sunday: German Márquez
Monday: Kyle Freeland
Here’s how it could shake out:
Friday: Márquez (three-days rest)
Sunday: Kyle Freeland (full rest)
Monday: Tyler Anderson
Wednesday: Márquez (full rest)
If Márquez pitches on short rest Friday, he’d be available to start a potential game five on full rest next week. If he pitches on Sunday, as he’s currently scheduled, he would, at best, be available out of the bullpen for a potential game five. The way it’s currently set up — Márquez on Sunday and Freeland on Monday — both pitchers will probably start one game during the series rather than a combined three.
If the Rockies lose Friday, they’ll be in an even bigger bind. If they’re down 2-0, Sunday becomes a must win game. Would they still go with Márquez, or would they switch to Freeland? If Márquez and the Rockies get swept, that would mean Freeland wouldn’t even get a start, or possibly even pitch, throughout the entire series. That’s not ideal.
As it is, if the Rockies lose tonight, my guess is that they’ll go with Freeland on Sunday in a must win game, and that means Márquez might not get a chance to pitch in the series. And because starting Anderson Friday probably increases the likelihood of a loss, it makes a lot of sense for the Rockies to make sure they’re best pitchers pitch and start Márquez on short rest.