With the abundance of power teams and squads with the potential to go all the way in these playoffs we tend to salivate over the big names like the Dodgers and the Yankees and the defending World Champion Cubs and the historically celebrated Cleveland Indians and even the Dusty Baker, Bryce Harper-led Washington Nationals.
Tonight, however, two underdogs will be going at it for a right to advance to the National League Championship Series against the powerful LA Dodgers.
Who grabs the second NL #WildCard spot? Home-field advantage? Grab your popcorn, it’s a sprint to the finish line: https://t.co/sIq6sEDK6g https://t.co/uJ5z7PMds5
The Diamondbacks, despite winning 93 games, are an afterthought when it comes to debating potential World Series champions this season. The wins total was, however, the franchises highest since it won 94 games in 2011. Arizona has tasted World Series victory once in its history. The squad’s dramatic 2001, Game 7 World Series win over the Yankees is one of the most memorable baseball moments of the last half century.
The Colorado Rockies success starts and ends with Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.
Nolan Arenado (@Rockies) led 3B w/ 20 defensive runs saved in 2017. He has 104 DRS the last 5 years, 30 more than any other 3B. #NLWildCard
Colorado won a respectable but hardly intimidating 87 games which is a huge accomplishment for a franchise that has won more than 85 games just three times since its inception in 1993. The Rockies rode a second place division finish in 2007 to an improbable World Series appearance where they lost to the destiny-driven Boston Red Sox. If they hope to add another glorious moment to the franchise’s brief history, then it all starts with reversing the regular season results against the Diamondbacks.
The Dbacks have an 11-8 record vs. the Colorado Rockies this season and have won each of their last two meetings. Former Dodgers hurler and MLB ace Zack Greinke has been announced as the starting pitcher for Arizona. The game is at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.
In the win-or-go-home NL Wild Card Game, Zack Greinke will get the ball and the #Dbacks wouldn’t have it any other way. https://t.co/LgFDJowS8m
The storylines are decent too:
1. The playoffs tend to turn hot hitters into cold lumber and supreme ballers who enter the series in slumps seem to break out at the right time. Enter Diamondbacks All-Star Paul Goldschmidt whos coming off the worst month of his big-league career, in which he hit just .171. He finished the season on an 0-for-17 slide and hell be stepping into the box tonight against Rockies right-hander Jon Gray, a pitcher who Goldie is 0 for 11 against in his career.
2. On the flip side, Diamondbacks slugger J.D. Martinez is sizzling hot after winning the National Leagues Player of the Month for September. Martinez took Gray deep twice in six at-bats last month.
3. For the Rockies to have chance to advance past Arizona and onto bigger things in the playoffs, the franchise will have to reverse decades of history and hit as well away from Coors Field and the altitude as it does at home. This regular season it was no different. They hit .298 with 110 homers at home but only .248 with 82 homers on the road. Their numbers at Chase Field are worse. In 10 games there this season, they hit just .208.
But anything can happen in the playoffs so watch out for those Rodney Dangerfield squads with a few superstar names, low expectations, some solid arms and a chip on their shoulder. Both of these teams were considered sleeper squads to make it to the World Series so its not like them being in the Wild Card game is shocking.
Most folks see any playoff progress made by these teams as baby steps in an incremental rise to the top. But when the ball clubs meet on Wednesday in the National League Wild Card game, the victor wont be conceding a loss to the Dodgers in the NLCS. They will be looking to shock the baseball world.