Cleat Geeks

972 Now Comes Down To 1

It only took 972 games, but the Arizona Diamondbacks are finally back in the postseason in 2017. Their opponent, the Colorado Rockies have had to wait 1,296 games since their last playoff appearance in 2009. A combined 14-year drought between the two National League West franchises and it’s going to come down to a win-or-go-home game for the right to take on the L.A. Dodgers in a best of five series in the National League Divisional Series.

Image result for Zack Greinke Jon Gray

These are the exact moments why the Diamondbacks paid slightly under $1M/start ($31M/32 starts) in 20017 for Zack Greinke. Which is embarrassingly a little less than doubled the whole 2017 salary of Rockies Wild Card starting pitcher Jon Gray ($509,500).

Jon Gray faced the Diamondbacks three times in 2017, finishing with a 2-1 record to go along with a 3.50 ERA and .264 batting average against in 18 innings. Greinke has started five games against Colorado this season and also has a 2-1 record to go along with a 3.41 ERA and .229 batting average against in 34.1 innings.

Image result for Zack Greinke Jon Gray

Greinke doesn’t just trump Gray in the wallet department, but in playoff experience as well. This will be the tenth postseason start for Greinke, first in a Diamondbacks uniform. In those ten previous starts, Zack has a 3-3 record to go along with a 3.55 ERA. Which is in line with his 3.40 career regular season ERA. The 25 year old Jon Gray, who was the third overall pick by the Rockies in the 2013 draft, will be making his first playoff start in his career this evening in downtown Phoenix.

Nothing is absolute. So, if anyone says there is no home-field advantage in baseball just show them this clip from 2013 National League Wild Card game involving then Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto.

At the time, Cueto was a six-year major league veteran with two previous post-seasons under his belt. That was year two of the 1-game Wild Card playoff, making it the first time the Reds Ace started in an elimination post-season game. Not to mention those raucous Pittsburgh Pirate fans were starved of playoff baseball for the previous 20 seasons. While we won’t be able to draw an offsides penalties like at Cardinal games, the home crowd can still make a tangible difference, especially under these unique situations.

Being an Oklahoma native like Archie Bradley and having gone to play his college baseball at Oklahoma University, then becoming the Rockies go to pitcher at only age 25, Jon Gray seems to have the moxie to handle himself well under the pressure.

Arizona Diamondbacks v St Louis Cardinals

Even though that may or may not be the case for Gray Wednesday evening, nobody is immune to the verbal antagonizing of fans, even Hall of Fame pitchers. You don’t have to be a keen baseball fan to remember the “Whose Your Daddy” chants that New York Yankee fans rained down on Boston Red Sox star and now current Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Which prompted Martinez’s post-game quote, “They beat me…I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.” If you’re going to game this evening, get loud everytime the young Rockies pitcher gets on the mound. Others will follow suit and that’s the start of how to get the youngster to think about the moment and not focus on the very next pitch at hand.

The one and only time these two inter-division foes have faced off in the playoffs was in 2007. The red-hot Rockies swept Arizona in that years National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series where they were promptly swept by the Boston Red Sox.

The Diamondbacks are 5-0 all-time in elimination games when playing at Chase Field. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.

With multiple legitimate candidates on each Wild Card team, the odds are good that the National League MVP will be playing in this game. Here are the 2017 stats for those four hopefuls against tonight’s opposing starting pitcher:

Paul Goldschmidt vs. Gray: 0 for 9; 0 walks

J.D. Martinez vs. Gray: 2 for 6; 2 HR 4 RBI

Charlie Blackmon vs. Greinke: 3 for 16; 0 HR 0 RBI

Nolan Arenado vs. Greinke: 6 for 16; 0 HR 3 RBI

Other notables:

Rockies vs. Greinke in 2017

Carlos Gonzalez: 1 for 8; 1 HR 1 RBI

D.J. LeMahieu: 5 for 13; .385 Avg 0 HR 1 RBI

Trevor Story: 4 for 14; 2 HR 3 RBI

Diamondbacks vs. Gray in 2017

Jake Lamb: 1 for 7; 0 HR 2 RBI

David Peralta: 4 for 10; 0 HR 0 RBI 0 Runs

A.J. Pollock: 2 for 5; 0 HR 0 RBI

In the first inning of last nights American League Wild Card game, the Yankees and Minnesota Twins combined for six runs and Yankees Ace starter Luis Severino lasted only one out. With that being said, throw out all of the numbers as we sit on pins in needles at 5:05 when the Rockies lead-off hitter Charlie Blackmon digs into the batters box to await the games first pitch.

The Valley as a whole might let out a collective sigh of relief if Zack is able to get through the top of the first inning without any blemishes on the scoreboard. If Greinke can do that, Diamondback fans are going to be especially loud and hungry before Gray even touches the game ball. For a young pitcher making his first postseason appearance like Jon Gray, that’ll be make or break time.

 

 

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