Experts predict a D-backs win in NL Wild Card Game (and beyond)
The Vegas odds say the Arizona Diamondbacks are 1.5-run favorites over the visiting Colorado Rockies for the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday.
Experts might agree.
Fifty-two of 63 of the good people who live MLB all year long from six well-respected websites see the Diamondbacks pulling out the victory to earn an NLDS series against another NL West opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still, it’s never easy to predict what can happen in a one-game playoff. The D-backs and Rockies are quite familiar with one another, and playing a win-or-go-home game in a hitter’s ballpark can magnify one team’s mistake or the other’s huge play, even if the D-backs run out ace Zack Greinke to face the Rockies’ best pitcher, Jon Gray.
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Still, that strong majority of baseball experts see an Arizona victory on the horizon. And a few of them see Arizona going even deeper into the postseason.
ESPN (30 experts)
Twenty-five of ESPN’s MLB analysts picked the D-backs to win on account of several reasons. For one, Greinke only lost once in 18 games played at Chase Field this season, and he won 13 while compiling a 2.87 ERA. Toss left-hander Robbie Ray in the bullpen behind him, and the D-backs shouldn’t have to go too deep into the bullpen.
How confident is the ESPN crew in the D-backs’ chances? While it’s putting the cart before the horse, 10 of them — that’s a third — have Arizona advancing to face the Dodgers and winning. Scott Lauber explains for the group:
“The D-backs went 11-8 against the Dodgers and will give their NL West rivals all they can handle in the division series. There’s no reason they can’t be the next wild-card team to reach the World Series.”
So does Arizona have a chance at a World Series berth? Three of ESPN’s 30 MLB experts say, ‘yes,” including Eric Karabell, who has this to say:
I like Arizona’s chances with Greinke in the wild-card game against the Rockies, and the Diamondbacks match up well with the Dodgers, as they boast quite a few right-handed power hitters against the L.A. lefties. So what if the Dodgers won the most games this season? That means nothing. The Diamondbacks swept each of the past two series and are playing well in September.
Sports Illustrated (nine experts)
Gabriel Baumgaertner finds himself as the only Rockies sympathizer among nine panelists over at Sports Illustrated. The other eight MLB writers picked the D-backs to advance to the NLDS.
Arizona fans might like to hear Ben Reiter’s take. He’s the only one who has the Diamondbacks defeating the Dodgers. He’s also the only one who has them defeating the Washington Nationals in the NLCS before picking the Houston Astros to take the World Series over the D-backs in six games.
It’s Rob Manfred’s worst nightmare! Really, though, despite their lack of a pedigree, these are two exciting and athletic teams – and similarly built ones at that. Each has a leading MVP candidate (Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt) surrounded by a number of near-candidates. Each has a proven ace (Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke) and a deep staff behind him. Really, the one weakness between them is Diamondbacks’ closer Fernando Rodney – who saved 39 games this year, but remains Fernando Rodney. The Astros’ top-ranked offense could win at least a couple games late, which will prove to be the difference. You really thought I’d pick anyone else?
SB Nation (nine experts)
Eight of nine have Arizona winning the Wild Card game.
Three of those pick the D-backs to make the NLDS, and two have them winning it to face the Indians in the NLCS. Kurt Mensching has Arizona losing the World Series, and Marc Normandin picked them to go all the way.
USA Today (six experts)
Led by national reporter Bob Nightengale, four of six USA Today writers are taking Arizona. Three of those writers have the Cleveland Indians reaching the World Series to beat the Washington Nationals, while one, Ted Berg, has the Boston Red Sox taking a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
CBS Sports (five experts)
Only one of CBS Sports’ MLB writers, Dayn Perry, picks the Rockies to leave Chase Field with a win, but there’s one thing they can all agree upon: There will be runs scored this Wednesday.
Perry has the lowest combined scoring output between the two squads with Colorado taking a 4-2 win. The rest of the writers have the squads putting up at least eight runs despite their best pitchers being available.
Here’s Perry’s take:
While Greinke of course has the stronger body of work, Gray’s been outstanding on a rate basis in 2017.
Yahoo! Sports (four experts)
Mark Townsend was the lone wolf of the Big League Stew blog’s four writers by picking Colorado to upset Arizona. Why?
Nolan Arenado is the main reason I feel confident about that. No disrespect to Zack Greinke or Paul Goldschmidt, but Arenado will be the best player on the field. He‘ll be hyped too, in a good way. I don’t think people realize how much this opportunity means to him. He’s not going to let it pass without doing something special, and I think whatever moment or moments he provides will be the difference.
As for the other three Yahoo! writers — Chris Cwik, Mike Oz and Liz Roscher — it comes down to not betting against Zack Greinke and betting against the Rockies not playing at Coors Field. Roscher sums it up like so:
In the end, it just feels like the Diamondbacks just have “it” this year. Whatever “it” may be — scrappiness, stick-to-itiveness, that underdog spirit — they’ve got it. And “it” is hard to beat.
Tune in to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday as our shows come to you live from Chase Field.
The 2017 National League Wild Card Game gets underway just after 5 p.m., and you can hear the action on 98.7 FM.