Before the Dodgers left Los Angeles for their last road trip we did not know if they would return to Dodger Stadium this year. They were in the driver’s seat 1.5 games ahead in the NL West and fresh off a sweep of Colorado (and taking two out of three from San Diego) as they prepared to play Arizona during their final trip. Unfortunately the Dodgers dropped two of three to the Snakes and Colorado won 9 of their last 10 games as the Dodger’s 1.5 game lead dwindled. The Dodgers were able to rebound sweeping the Giants in their final regular season series and the two clubs finished tied for first place. So as a result of the Dodgers winning the season series against Colorado 12-7, the Dodgers will host the National League West tiebreaker game on Monday afternoon.
The stakes are higher than they have ever been for the Dodgers and Rockies. The winner moves to open the NLDS against the Braves at home on Thursday. The loser has to immediately fly to either Milwaukee or Chicago to play the Brewers or Cubs who are playing their own tiebreaker on Monday to decide the National League Central. This is something that has never happened before in baseball history. There have never been two tiebreaker games in the same season let alone on the same day. Here’s some numbers about the tiebreaker and how the Dodgers have fared in such contests.
Overall there have been 10 one-game tiebreakers in MLB history. Six of them have been in the American League, and four in the National League. These would be the eleventh and twelfth respectively. There have been only five previous divisional tiebreakers, four of them in the American League. These two will be just the second and third National League divisional tiebreakers. The only previous NL divisional tiebreaker involved the Dodgers. The 1980 season saw the Dodgers enter the final three game series against the Houston Astros trailing by three games. Needing a sweep to force the tiebreaker the Dodgers did just that by having late game rallies in all three wins. In that time Tommy Lasorda chose veteran Dave Goltz over rookie Fernando Valenzuela to start the tiebreaker and the Astros beat him down. Joe Niekro twirled a complete game win and the Astros defeated the Dodgers 7-1. Many people considered that the biggest mistake of Tommy’s managerial career.
For the record the Dodgers were also involved in four other National League tiebreaker series in 1946, 1951, 1959, and 1962. Those were before divisional play and the two teams played a best two out of three series to determine the National League pennant winners. The Dodgers lost to the Cardinals in two games in 46, in three games to the Giants in 51 (the shot heard round the world series), defeated the Milwaukee Braves in two games in 1959, and lost to the Giants in three games in 1962.
The pitching matchup for the 2018 tiebreaker will be flamethrower German Marquez towing the rubber for Colorado and rookie sensation Walker Buehler for the Dodgers. Marquez finished the regular season with a 14-10 record and a 3.76 ERA. He’s struck out 221 and walked 55 across 191.1 innings pitched. Marquez has struck out 10.4 per nine and allowed 8.2 hits per nine. He’s given up 22 home runs in 2018.
Against the Dodgers he’s 2-0 with a 3.19 ERA over five career starts. The Venezuelan righty has struck out 26 and walked nine over 31 innings versus the Dodgers. At Dodger Stadium he is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA over three career starts. Marquez has faced the Dodgers three times in 2018, winning twice and notching a no-decision. On May 21 he allowed one earned run on two hits striking out five over seven frames. On June 2 he allowed four earned runs on seven hits over six innings with eight punch-outs, and on June 30 he limited the Dodgers to one earned run on two hits over eight innings and struck out nine. Here’s how the current Dodgers fare against him. The Dodgers have hit just .188 against Marquez but have slugged six home runs. Joc Pederson has hit two, and Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and Enrique Hernandez have also hit home runs.
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Walker Buehler has a 7-5 record with a 2.76 ERA over 130.2 innings pitched. He’s whiffed 148 and walked 34 while striking out 10.2 per nine innings. He’s allowed 6.5 hits per nine and given up 12 home runs in his 22 starts. Buehler has a 0.98 WHIP. Buehler has registered five starts against the Rockies and nine appearances in which he is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA. He’s fanned 39, walked 12 across 36 frames. Buehler has a 2.52 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
The current Rockies are hitting .213 with four home runs against Buehler. Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Gerardo Parra, and Chris Iannetta have hit long balls. Colorado has hit eight extra-base hits off of Buehler. The young right hander has faced the Rockies five times this season earning four no-decisions and a loss. On May 21 Buehler allowed just one earned run on two hits over seven innings and struck out six, but was not involved in the decision. Then on June 2 he allowed four runs on eight hits in five frames but the Dodgers won 12-4. On August 11 he tossed seven shutout frames in a game the Dodgers lost. On September 8 Buehler allowed four runs on six hits in six innings in a loss at Coors Field. Then in his fifth start versus Colorado on September 19 he allowed two unearned runs on three hits and struck out 12 over six innings.
Buehler vs. Rockies
Here are the starting lineups for both clubs.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 1, 2018
Game time 1:09 PM PST- TV- ESPN