The National League Division Series shifts to Denver as the Rockies and Brewers will play Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. The Rockies will try to keep their season alive after dropping the first two games to the Brewers in Milwaukee while they host their first home playoff game since 2009.
Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 58° with rain possible as early as 4 pm MT. So bundle up and hope the rain holds off.
Time: 4:37 p.m. ET (2:37 p.m. MT)
Location: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
TV: MLB Network
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM; KNDV 1150 AM (Spanish) (in Colorado); ESPN Radio; stream on MLB At Bat app
How they got here
The Rockies offense has been nowhere to be seen in the first two games of the NLDS. In Game 1 they didn’t earn their second hit until a two-run rally in the top of the ninth tied the game before eventually falling in the 10th inning. In Game 2 on Friday, the offense seemed more productive, accumulating six hits and three walks and putting traffic on the bases in seven of nine innings. Unfortunately, they also struck out ten times and frequently failed to even put the ball in play en route to leaving all nine baserunners aboard in getting shut out, 4-0. And you can’t win when you can’t score. As such, the Brewers are the ones with the 2-0 lead.
History is, therefore, not on the Rockies’ side. Of the 79 best-of-five series in MLB history to start 2-0, 68 have been won by the team with the early lead, or 86%. However, comebacks have happened three times in the last six years: 2012 (Giants over Reds), 2015 (Blue Jays over Rangers), and just last year (Yankees over Indians).
The biggest disadvantage of having to fight beyond the last day of the season for playoff positioning and play in the Wild Card Game is the Rockies have yet to use their two best pitchers in this series. As mentioned, that hasn’t been what’s hurt the Rockies, but it is also what gives them a bit of confidence as the series shifts to Denver.
German Márquez will take the mound on a rainy afternoon in Denver. His last start came in Game 163 at Dodger Stadium in which he allowed four runs on five hits with nine strikeouts over 4 2⁄3 innings (two of which came after a dropped-third-strike extended the fourth inning). Nonetheless, Márquez has been spectacular in the second half of the season: in his last 13 starts he has posted a 2.25 ERA with 118 strikeouts and 17 walks over 88 innings, a 12.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9, while allowing batters to hit .204/.253/.327 against him in that time. That run includes an August 3 start in Milwaukee in which he allowed two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings.
The Brewers will counter with lefty Wade Miley, who made just three starts in the first half of the season due to various injuries. He’s put up good results in the second half, making 13 starts with a 2.60 ERA in 69 1⁄3 innings. His 41 strikeouts (5.3 K/9) and 17 walks (2.3 BB/9) pose some concern for the Brewers, though he has limited opponents to .243/.304/.340 in that time.
Miley hasn’t shown much of a platoon split (.284 wOBA allowed to righties, .283 to lefties), but he’s allowed just three extra-base hits—all doubles—to lefties all season. However, Rockies have posted a best-in-baseball .354 wOBA against left-handed pitching in 2018. This comes as a welcome development for a team that has hit .154/.211/.185 this series. It also helps that they are heading back to the friendly hitting environs of home (even if it will be cold and wet on Sunday).
To be fair, the Brewers haven’t been tearing the cover off the ball this series (.249/.346/.328), but they have been able to push runs across where the Rockies haven’t. Jesus Aguilar (.890 OPS in the regular season) has been limited to just one walk in seven plate appearances and Ryan Braun (regular season .782 OPS) has three singles in nine plate appearances. However, MVP candidate Christian Yelich has scored three of the Brewers seven runs so far and has a single, a home run, and four walks in two games.
As soon as lineups are posted online this post will be updated with the tweets at the top.
The day off on Saturday means everyone should be plenty rested for Sunday afternoon’s game. Walks have hurt the Rockies bullpen so far. Of the seven they have issued, three have come around to score, including the game-winner in Thursday’s Game 1 walk-off for the Brewers. The Good: DJ Johnson, Scott Oberg, and Chris Rusin (4 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K). The Bad: Seunghwan Oh, Harrison Musgrave, Adam Ottavino (2 2⁄3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 4 K).
The Brewers bullpen has been as excellent as advertised. If you include Corbin Burnes’ “piggyback” appearance in Game 1, the relievers have given up just two runs on five hits and one walk in nine innings with 16 strikeouts. Despite throwing three innings (and allowing the only Rockies runs) in the first two games, Jeremy Jeffress likely remains Craig Counsell’s go-to-closer for the Brewers after allowing just two hits in two shutout innings in Game 2.
Sunday will be the first home playoff game since 2009 for the Rockies, but it could also be their last game of 2018. Cold and wet conditions will likely mean that runs will continue to be at a premium, but the Rockies definitely have the starting pitching advantage. Will everyone in the bullpen operating on between one and four days’ rest, it’ll probably be all-hands-on-deck for both teams.