The day after the Twins and Yankees get it on and the day before the Divisional Round begins, the two teams that trailed way behind the Dodgers and well in front of the other second and third-place teams will meet in a one game elimination round at Chase Field.
From the start of this season, the Rockies and Diamondbacks played well and both sustained winning levels; the only problem was that the Dodgers hardly lost all summer, so the Rocks and Snakes were left to compete for the Wild Card. And here we are.
For Arizona, reaching the playoffs was no problem. The Diamondbacks won 93 games and closed the gap between them and the Dodgers significantly down the stretch. Part of the reason was that the Dodgers lost 17 out of 18 at one time; the other was that the Diamondbacks won the season series between the two teams, 11–8. They do not fear a looming NLDS against Los Angeles but they have to get there first.
That means beating Jon Gray, who won two of his three starts against the Diamondbacks this season, and deservedly so. He gave up two runs in both of the wins, going six innings in one and seven in the other and three runs over five innings in the loss, which was the only one of the three in Colorado. He finished the season strong, too, going 7–2 in August and September, with an ERA under 2.50.
His opponent, Zack Greinke wasn’t sharp down the stretch of the regular season. Greinke got lit up against Miami in his second-to-last start and gave up six hits and two walks in just four innings of work in Kansas City on September 29.
That said, Greinke was still 13–1 at Chase Field and ended the season with a 1.07 WHIP and 3.20 ERA. He threw just over 200 innings but is well-rested ahead of his first postseason appearance after outings in 2013, ’14 and ’15. Historically, he’s been good in the playoffs, a 1.01 WHIP in nearly 60 career innings.
JD Martinez has been hitting home runs at a frantic pace for too long now to simply be considered ‘hot.’ He has 29 homers in 61 games since he was acquired from the Tigers in the summertime and will be Jon Gray’s number one priority on Wednesday night.
Carlos Gonzalez, however, found his swing just in time for the playoffs and is hot at the right time. Gonzalez was hitting .228 at the end of July but got that mark up to .239 by the end of August. Then he hit .377 in September to finish at a respectable .262. CarGo went 9-for-15 in his last four games, including three doubles, a homer and five runs scored. The Rockies were good all season when Gonzalez wasn’t; they are really good when he’s the guy we had been used to seeing whenever he was healthy enough to stay on the field.
This should be a fantastic ballgame but I give the edge to the Diamondbacks because of Zack Greinke’s experience in the postseason against an opponent with none and Arizona’s balance. The Diamondbacks are about as good a team as you’ll find in this game and I think they’re too good to bow out before getting the chance to play a full series. I will lay a run with the Diamondbacks.
Free Pick: Arizona (-1) -136