The MLB’s marathon 162-game regular season has now come to a close and all eyes are on the playoffs. In the National League, it all starts with the Wild Card between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Read on to find out which factors you’ll want to take into account for MLB National League Wild Card betting.
Wild Card betting: Only one game matters
Given that an MLB season consists of 162 games for each team, it is understandable that some fans don’t agree with the single game Wild Card decider. However, it certainly adds to the excitement and from a betting perspective it should be treated the same as any other game.
The Diamondbacks and Rockies will follow the American League Wild Card game between the Yankees and the Twins with the winner facing the LA Dodgers in the next stage of the MLB postseason.
The Diamondbacks vs. The Rockies odds: A tale of two teams
For some time, it was assumed these two teams would face off in the Wildcard game. The Dodgers had the NL West tied up and both Arizona and Colorado got off to their own blazing starts, with Colorado having a 9.5 game cushion for the second spot at the all-star break.
Arizona is the better team and the importance of Robbie Ray shouldn’t be underestimated. Colorado lacks similar auxiliary firepower and will have to overcome home field advantage.
While Arizona maintained their pace and cruised into the first slot, Colorado faltered. As of September 21, just one game separated Colorado and Milwaukee, but the Brewers lost three of four from the Cubs while Colorado enjoyed pairings against weaker teams, going 4-2 over the week.
The result of the dichotomy is that Arizona is well rested and ready for the game, with Arizona ace Zach Greinke having his final start moved back so he could pitch on natural rest.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies: The season series
During the season, Arizona enjoyed an 11-8 edge in the 19 games played between the divisional rivals. Arizona has won the season series in six of the last seven seasons, the lone failing a 9-10 record in 2014.
Analysing each team’s pitching capability
As starting pitching goes, Arizona has a slight advantage.
Zack Greinke finished second in Cy Young voting in 2015 and seems to have returned to that form after a tough 2016. He’ll take the mound for Arizona, who can find hope in the fact he’s been much better at home this year and brings plenty of playoff success.
The stage won’t intimidate Greinke. In five starts against the Rockies this season, he threw 34.1 innings, allowed 13 runs and struck out 37.
Whether or not Jon Gray will succumb to the pressures of Wild Card baseball is anyone’s guess. The third-year starter has been the ace of the Rockies staff since coming back from a two-month absence early in the season.
The thin air of Denver leads to offensive explosiveness, and the hitting adjustments made for it have hindered Rockies hitters over the years.
Despite pitching his home games in Colorado, he’s been a lot better there than on the road. In three starts against Arizona this season, he’s given up seven runs in 18 innings, striking out 26.
Colorado holds an edge in bullpen strength, but it’s close. Pat Neshek has been a much needed fix since coming over in a midseason trade, with the floundering bullpen a big part of the reason for Colorado’s second-half swoon.
The Diamondbacks have what may be the best reliever on either team in Archie Bradley, but he’ll pitch the 8th before Fernando Rodney, who’s had a strong second half but is still combustible.
Robbie Ray may be available for Arizona out of the bullpen. The lefty put it all together this season to challenge Greinke for the leading role. Given the general weakness of the Diamondback’s bullpen, you can probably expect to see Ray come in right around the time the Rockies start their third time through the order if it’s close.
Diamondbacks vs. Rockies betting: The lineups
Diamondbacks vs. Rockies lineups: Statistics
It’s even money that Gerardo Parra (0.8 WAR) starts in place of one of Gonzalez or Desmond, but either way, the Rockies’ is a lineup built around two superstars. Both Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are in contention for the MVP award, but Blackmon has trouble hitting away from home, which could be crucial in this game.
Arizona is a little more balanced and also boasts two big bats in MVP candidate Goldschmidt and hottest hitter on the planet Martinez, who set the MLB record for home runs in September with four games still left in the month. Both teams score above average on defence, though Colorado has the edge there.
How important is home field advantage?
The perception is that Colorado needs to play at home to compete. The thin air of Denver leads to offensive explosiveness, and the hitting adjustments made for it have hindered Rockies hitters over the years.
Over 2017, Arizona has enjoyed home field play, going 52-29 at Chase Field, compared to a 40-40 record on the road; Colorado is just 41-40 all told in road games. The teams split the ten games in Arizona 5-5 this year, with Colorado winning five of nine in 2016.
Who is the likely winner?
Arizona is the better team and the importance of Robbie Ray shouldn’t be underestimated. Colorado, on the other hand, lacks similar auxiliary firepower and will have to overcome home field advantage. That said it’s still a close one to call.
Arizona will rightly be the favourite, but this game won’t be the mismatch that many are expecting. There could be value in a bet on the Rockies but it all depends on where the odds move. Bettors will have to keep an eye on the market with this one.