The Colorado Rockies are heading to the desert to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Wildcard game. The division rivals will be battling for the chance to take on fellow rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
The Rockies led the league in batting average, led by the National League’s batting champ, Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon hit a league best, .331 and had 37 home runs while knocking in 104 RBI, and also had a league leading 137 runs scored. The Rockies had several players who had very productive offensive seasons, as is usually the case playing in the advantageous Coors Field. Their pitching was very good as well, they posted good numbers throughout the season, which is no easy task in the thin air of the Rocky Mountains. They did give up a lot of home runs, but they still posted the 9th best ERA in the NL, at 4.91. John Gray, tonight’s starter for the Rockies, posted an impressive 10-4 record, while having an ERA of 3.67, including a 2-1 record against the Diamondbacks. They have had a good mix of hitting and pitching for most of the season, and that helped guide them into the second Wildcard spot.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a very scary lineup. A lineup which helped lead them to a 13 game winning streak late in the season. As impressive as that is, during the streak, they had a 98 inning stretch where they didn’t even trail their opponents. Sluggers J.D. Martinez, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jake Lamb all had over 30 home runs and over 100 RBI. The Arizona pitching staff has been incredible as well as a staff they rank in the top ten of many statistical categories. Tonight’s starter, Zack Greinke has pitched well this year, and at times was very dominant. He is ranked in the top ten of most major statistical categories as an individual as well.
Tonight’s game is kind of a toss up. Both teams are capable of putting up a lot of runs, and both pitchers are capable of shutting down high powered offenses. I think the Diamondbacks will overpower the Rockies though. Although both lineups are more than capable of scoring runs, I think Greinke will be more successful than John Gray. If Greinke can control the Rockies ability to manufacture runs, the Diamondbacks should be ok. If the Rockies get to him early and force him to pitch uncomfortably, it could easily swing in the Rockies favor.
Keys to the game:
- The Rockies and their high powered offense need to get on base and manufacture runs
- John Gray needs to be brilliant. Arizona is too good to make mistakes.
- Play solid defense. The Rockies can’t give away outs, they have the 3rd least errors in the majors and need to keep it up.
- Zack Greinke needs to limit base runners. Don’t let Colorado have the opportunity to put together big innings
- Martinez, Goldschmidt and Lamb need to do what they do best…hit
- Play sound defense. The Diamondbacks had 108 errors this year, fifth most in the majors. Don’t let Colorado stay in the game by giving them extra outs.