Spinal Tap’s volume goes to 11. The Dodgers are setting out to take theirs to 12, games that is, to win the World Series. To get to those 11 games, they have to face the Colorado Rockies at home in Game 163 on Monday for the right to win the NL West.
A season that has been this utterly unpredictable for the Dodgers shouldn’t end any other way, I suppose. Absolutely nothing has come easy this year, from having almost every member of the team on the DL for some period of time—including the loss of their All-Star shortstop for the whole season—to being eight games back to hopping in and out and in and out of first place.
The Rockies come in to Chavez Ravine having won eight of their last nine games since the Dodgers swept them in mid-September. That one loss at the hands of the Washington Nationals on Saturday is what allowed the Dodgers to tie up the division, while the Dodgers swept the San Francisco Giants.
Colorado will send German Marquez to the mound. The right-hander is 5-1 in his last nine starts with a 1.87 ERA and has struck out double digits in five of last six starts, including first eight against Philadelphia last week. The current Dodger roster has six home runs against him, with Joc Pederson having two. He has started two games at Dodger Stadium this season, and has only allowed four hits in 15 innings.
For their part, the Dodgers will counter with rookie Walker Buehler. He was held back from Sunday’s game in favor of Rich Hill, in anticipation of this very scenario. Buehler isn’t your typical rookie in that he doesn’t shy away from the big games and pressure situations.
“There’s guys that want to be in this spot and this moment. And there’s guys that want to run from it. Walker’s a guy that we know wants to be in this moment,” manager Dave Roberts told Bill Plunkett after Sunday’s game.
“Our goal is to win the division. With Walker rested and having an extra day and right now, he’s our best. To win this game, to win this division, it’s in our hands—at home.”
As it is still a regular season game, both teams will have the expanded rosters at their disposals. Hill went a strong seven innings in Sunday’s game, allowing the Dodgers to have a very rested bullpen.
If the Dodgers should lose Game 163, they then would have to fly to either Milwaukee or Chicago for the Wild Card game on Tuesday, depending on the result of the game between those teams who are having their own Game 163. Who the starter would be in that game is up in the air, and would most likely be a bullpen game, and with less arms as the roster resorts back to the typical 25-man variety. If they win the Wild Card game, they would the face whomever was the winner of the Cubs/Brewers game. If they win Game 163, they will host the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS starting Thursday.
It doesn’t matter now what games the Dodgers should have won when. All that matters is how they preform in this game. As I’ve stated in many previous posts, the Dodgers have done well this season with their backs against the wall, and I’ll continue to say that until they prove me wrong.
Game time for Game 163 is 1:08 pm Pacific Time.