Posted on October 7, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After winning the first two games of the NLDS at home, the Milwaukee Brewers will try to close out their series with the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon. The Brew Crew scored a walk-off win in Game 1 of the series and then proceeded to shut out the high-powered Colorado offense in Game 2 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. However, the series isn’t over yet, especially with the series shifting back to Coors Field.
After Friday’s win, the Brewers are now riding a 10-game winning streak going back to the regular season. During that time, Milwaukee has gone from being a wild-card team to being the top seed in the National League playoffs to now being one game away from the NLCS. The Rockies will have to find a way to break up that momentum, so it’s imperative that they score early in Game 3 in order to take advantage of their home crowd.
With their backs against the wall, the Rockies will go with German Marquez. The 23-year old had an outstanding season, going 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA. He didn’t get the job done against the Dodgers in the extra game that decided the N.L. West, but he was remarkable the second half of the season, going 9-3 in his last 17 starts.
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When he faced the Brewers in May at Coors Field, he got knocked out early, giving up five runs on 12 hits over 4.2 innings. However, Marquez was much better when he faced them in early August, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out nine over seven innings. If he can continue to pitch the way he has the second half of the season, the Rockies should be in good shape.
Milwaukee will counter with lefty Wade Miley, who will be making his first career postseason start at age 31. Miley lost 15 games last season and had to settle for a minor league contract with the Brewers this spring. He also missed two months in the middle of the season with an oblique strain. However, when healthy, Miley went 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts this season.
The caveat is that Miley only averaged five innings per start this season. He rarely goes deep in games and didn’t even make it to five innings in his last two starts during the regular season. In a playoff game, especially one at Coors Field, the Brewers may not be able to rely on him for too long, so Milwaukee’s bullpen could end up getting heavy use in Game 3.
The X-factor for the Rockies in Game 3 could be Charlie Blackmon. As the team’s leadoff hitter, he’s just 1 for 8 in this series and 2 for 11 over three postseason games. He’s also just 3 for 16 (.188) in his career against Miley. If the Rockies are going to get off to a fast start in Game 3, they need Blackmon to be the catalyst at the top of the order and help set the table for guys like Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.
For the Brewers, the X-factor in Game 3 could be the shortstop tandem of Orlando Arcia and Hernan Perez. Arcia started Game 1 but ceded the spot to Perez in Game 2 after committing an uncharacteristic error. In any event, both players have strong numbers against Marquez, albeit in limited at-bats. Arcia is 4 for 8 with three extra-base hits while Perez is 3 for 5 with a double. One of them will be starting Game 3 and have a chance to be a surprise hero offensively for the Brewers.
The Rockies are definitely in a tough spot, but they should be able to come alive offensively back at home. It’s fair to wonder if Miley will be able to go deep enough to turn the ball over to the top arms in Milwaukee’s bullpen. To be fair, the Brewers should be able to score runs too, but the Rockies will pull through in a slugfest at home. Colorado wins 9-6.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.