After a fairly good American League Wild Card game Tuesday night, we’re back to the NL version as an encore to fill out the field for the tournament, so to speak. We’ve got a matchup of new versus old, and it should be a fun one. Check ’em out!
RHP Jon Gray (COL) versus RHP Zack Greinke (ARI) a�� 8:00 p.m. ET, TBS
Is it vindication of the current system if both the home, favored teams move onto the rest of the postseason? We’re one Diamondbacks win away from that being the case. And it feels like that’s a dynamic worth exploring. Sure, one game to decide anything after an arduous 162-game season doesn’t really feel right, but does it play up the a�?wilda�? part of the Wild Card?
If you don’t win your division, should you have to do the MLB’s version of proving ita��like we all had to in order to win a schoolyard game of H.O.R.S.E?
It’s not an invalid point.
Not only does it incentivize winning the divisiona��which was the goal during the pre-1994, er, 1995 playoffs when the game expanded to six divisionsa��but it keeps more teams and fanbases engaged in the dog days both before and after the trade deadline. That’s good for the game from a competitive standpointa��and like always, also from a financial standpoint.
In this coin-flip matchup, the Rockies are sending their young gun to the mound in Graya��a 25-year-old righty with a career ERA of 4.40 and fewer than 60 MLB starts under his belt. Now, that doesn’t exactly tell the full story.
Despite throwing just 110.1 innings, Gray was far and away the Rockies’ most effective starter. At 3.2 fWAR, he’s almost a full win clear over the next-best beta��German Marquez. Marquez also threw 52.1 more innings, with the likes of Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and many others somewhere in the rear-view mirror.
It’s not completely unlike if the Minnesota Twins didn’t have Ervin Santana, and JosA� BerrA�os had been forced to make the start Tuesday night. Sure, you have a young hot-shot starting your do-or-die game. But who the hell starts the games afterward if you win?
It really doesn’t mattera��and that’s an absolute. Especially if you lose.
This is the third year in a row that we’ve seen an inter-divisional matchup in a Wild Card game. And since these teams have seen so much of each other all year long, some of those can be the best matchups.
Last season’s Blue Jays-Orioles gamea��also known as the night Zach Britton closed down the bullpen rather than the gamea��was one of the most entertaining games we’ve seen in a long time.
This one should be no exception.
Greinke was absolutely brilliant in a bounce-back season for the Snakes, posting a 3.20 ERA, 215 strikeouts in 202.1 innings and a WHIP of 1.07. It turns out catcher defense might just matter, huh?
Greinke draws the start at the head of an impressive Diamondbacks rotationa��of which, he’s the elder statesmana��and there’s really no debate as to whether or not it’s deserved.
Greinke is still in search of his first World Series ring, but it’s not for a lack of trying. He reached the NLCS with both the Milwaukee Brewers (2011) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2013) and has pitched in four postseasons with a 3.55 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 8.3 K/9.
In short, Greinke is Greinke whether it’s October or August. And that’s a good thing for the Diamondbacksa��who will play a familiar foe for both him and them if they win. That’s right, they’d get the Dodgers, who they kind of owned this year.
That is, they were 11-8 against the Dodgers, which is about as much as anyone can a�?own a�? a 104-win team.