Thanks to the wild National League, we've already gotten three games this week with a playoff feel. The Brewers and Rockies have taken part in all three, with Milwaukee winning the NL Central on Monday and Colorado losing the NL West but then winning the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.
Now it's on to the best-of-five National League Division Series for each, with the top-seeded Brewers having home-field advantage.
Here are some things to know about the series.
Games on FS1 can be streamed on fuboTV (Try for free).
Thurs, Oct. 4
5 p.m. ET
Colorado at Milwaukee
Fri., Oct. 5
4 p.m. ET
Colorado at Milwaukee
Sun., Oct. 7
4:30 p.m. ET
Milwaukee at Colorado
Mon, Oct. 8*
9:40 p.m. ET
Milwaukee at Colorado
FS1 or MLBN
Wed., Oct. 10*
4:35 p.m. ET
Colorado at Milwaukee
FS1 or MLBN
*- if necessary
Both teams are hot
The Brewers won their last three games in August, went 19-7 in September and then won on Monday to steal the Central from the Cubs, who were up six games on the Brewers before those final three August wins. The ended the regular season with eight straight wins.
The Rockies went 19-9 in September. They won nine of 10 before losing to the Dodgers on Monday, but outlasted the Cubs in Wrigley Field on Tuesday after rough few days of travel.
History has shown that there isn't really any correlation good or bad between heading into the playoffs hot, cold or neither. Still, both teams are playing with a confident swagger right now and that's never a bad thing.
Brewers should be a bit more fresh
Kind of goes without saying, no? I've gotta cover it for those who might have missed the last few days and were waiting to dive into baseball for the NLDS round. Both the Brewers and the Rockies had to play Monday, but the Brewers will head into Thursday with two full days off. They also had a day off on Sept. 27. They closed the season at home and Milwaukee to Chicago and back is a very easy trip.
The Rockies have Wednesday off and it's their first day off since Sept. 20. They had to fly from Denver to Los Angeles Sunday night, played in Dodger Stadium Monday, flew to Chicago and then Tuesday night played in Wrigley Field. Fortunately, Milwaukee is within an hour drive and like a 15-minute flight from Chicago, but that's still lots of travel packed in a tight window.
Life away from Coors
I know Rockies fans hate this, but it does matter.
Rockies at home: .287/.350/.503, 166 2B, 33 3B, 119 HR, 445 R
Rockies on the road: .225/.295/.370, 114 2B, 9 3B, 91 HR, 335 R
That doesn't include Tuesday. They won, yeah, but they also scored one run, went 11 innings without scoring and then scored one in the 13th. They were 11 for 48 (.229) with 13 strikeouts and three walks.
In order for the Rockies to take at least one in Milwaukee, they'll need to hit a lot better than they have away from home this season.
But Matt, if the Rockies hit so poorly on the road, how did they go 44-38 on the road this season?
Rockies' underrated pitching
I've been screaming at whoever would listen this season about how great Kyle Freeland is and it was in full display in the wild card victory. He'll be ready to take the ball in Game 3 and the Brewers will have their hands full. He's about a run better at home than on the road, too. Tuesday night should have alleviated any concern about how he can handle the big stage, if there was any in the first place. If he's needed in Game 5, surely he'd be available on some capacity as well.
German Marquez has been great, too. In his last 17 starts, he has a 2.47 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 113 innings. Unfortunately, he pitched Monday. The Rockies will have him start a possible Game 4.
Having to go through these last two games really flipped the Rockies from getting their aces in the first two games. Instead, it's Anthonio Senzatela (6-6, 4.38) in Game 1. The 24-year-old righty is in a nice groove right now, having pitched to a 2.94 ERA in his last six starts. He has allowed exactly one earned run in each of his last three outings. No Brewers hitters have ever faced him more than three times and, generally speaking, I like the pitcher to have an advantage when there's unfamiliarity.
Tyler Anderson (7-9, 4.55) pitches in Game 2 and he twirled a gem last time out, working 7 2/3 scoreless innings. He had a 3.25 ERA in September, too.
The Rockies definitely have the better rotation here.
As for the bullpen, it's not nearly as deep as the Brewers' (we'll get to that), but there are four strong options. Here's what I wrote in the wild card preview:
- Closer Wade Davis went through a bad stretch in late July through early August, but he's only allowed one run in his last 18 outings. In that span, he has 25 strikeouts and only two walks. He hasn't pitched since Friday, so he's well rested.
- Setup man Adam Ottavino did close the season on a sour note (7.04 ERA in last 7 2/3 innings), but he's also well rested, having last worked Friday as well. He's talented enough to right the ship.
- Right-hander Scott Oberg has been excellent this season (2.48 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) and only had one slip up in September. He did pitch Monday, but only threw eight pitches. He's fine to go back-to-back since he had two days off before Monday.
- Seung-Hwan Oh has had a very good season and has gone seven straight scoreless outings. He pitched Sunday, but it was only five pitches and he got Monday off.
What we saw in the wild card game was that Ottavino is still a bit off. He really didn't have much idea where his Frisbee-like slider was going. Davis was nails. Oh didn't give up any loud contact and Oberg struck out all four batters he faced.
Brewers' offense top heavy, but strong throughout
Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich form the best 1-2 punch atop a lineup in the league. We know about Ryan Braun's track record and he closed the season on a hot streak, slashing .344/.417/.875(!) with two doubles, five homers and 12 RBI in his final 10 games. Jesus Aguilar hit 35 homers. Travis Shaw hit 32. Mike Moustakas hit 28. Jonathan Schoop didn't have a strong offensive season, but last year he had 35 doubles and 32 homers.
Prepare for good defense, for the most part
The Brewers were second in the NL in defensive efficiency (the number of balls in play converted into outs) and a lot of that is what Lorenzo Cain does to cover nearly 2/3 of the outfield. He's amazing in center. By defensive runs saved, the Brewers were the second-best defensive team in baseball. These stats are mostly measuring range, though, because the Brewers will commit errors. They had 108 this season, trailing only four non-playoff teams.
The Rockies, on the other hand, committed only 74 errors this season, though they hover around league average when we factor range in. Where they'll get you are ground balls. All-world third baseman Nolan Arenado teams with highly-decorated second baseman D.J. LeMahieu and a solid shortstop in Trevor Story to form a strong infield.
They are a bit weaker in the outfield. In fact, Charlie Blackmon scored out at negative-28 in center field in the regular season and we just witnessed Bud Black pull him from the game for defensive purposes in the wild card game.
Basically, how they get there is a bit opposite, but mostly we should expect to see quality defense in the series.
Deep bullpen gives Counsell options
Brewers manager Craig Counsell is going to go with a bullpen game in Game 1 and Jhoulys Chacin on short rest in Game 2. On one hand, that doesn't show a ton of faith in the rest of the rotation, but it also illustrates how deep and good the Brewers' bullpen is.
Corey Knebel has been an utter monster since coming off the DL. In 16 1/3 scoreless innings, he's only given up five hits and three walks while striking out 33. We know all about how dominant Josh Hader can be even in multi-inning stints. Jeremy Jeffress just finished the season with a 1.29 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 89 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. Corbin Burnes has been very good and is underrated. Joakim Soria struck out 26 in 22 innings with a 1.09 WHIP after being acquired. Xavier Cedeno only worked eight innings, but he only gave up one earned run on seven hits.
I just named six relief pitchers that range from very good to Terminator. There are more usable options, too.
Brewers are better, but ...
Overall, the Brewers are the better team here. The won five more games and had a plus-95 run differential compared to the Rockies' plus-35. The head-to-head bouts aren't predictive at all, but the Brewers won five of the seven regular-season matchups between the two teams and outscored the Rockies' 40-31.
This is October baseball. Absolutely anything can happen. Little things can sway games or even series. We see it every single year. What listed here is a big grouping of information, but by no means is it an exhaustive list of everything that matters. It would be impossible to do something like that because baseball, by nature, is incredibly unpredictable. That is so fun.
Let's now brace for a fun postseason series in which both home parks will be rocking.
Here our expert's guesses at how the series will play out.