The New York Yankees survived to advance to the American League Divisional Series, and now it is the National League's turn for the spotlight.
The Colorado Rockies will visit the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday for the NL Wild Card. After a wild contest Tuesday, both teams have the potential to put on a strong encore performance. Yet, the appearance of an established ace could swing the game in a certain direction and give one team a distinct advantage.
Meanwhile, the ALDS will begin on Thursday, and the entire series live-stream and television schedules can be found at MLB.com.
NL Wild Card viewing guide
When: Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: TBS Live, MLB.tv
Surprisingly, the Diamondbacks have been among baseball's most successful franchises since their debut season in 1998. Including a World Series title in 2001, Arizona has found itself playing October baseball almost as much as any club in the last 20 years:
However, the team is now back in the postseason for just the first time since 2011, and it's a winner-take-all showdown with a division rival.
Zack Greinke figures to be a key figure in Wednesday's contest, as the star hurler will be the best arm in the stadium and the player who can make the biggest difference toward an Arizona win.
Greinke will face 25-year-old Jon Gray, who emerged as a reliable top option down the stretch for the Rockies.
Fox Sports Arizona provided a quick look at the pitching matchup:
While Colorado lacks an ace and starting pitching overall, it has plenty of offense. The Rockies led the NL in scoring this season and feature three players in Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds who smacked at least 30 home runs on the year.
Greinke has plenty of experience dealing with this Colorado lineup, but the results have been mixed.
In over 40 at-bats each, Carlos Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu are hitting over .300, while the former has five homers. Trevor Story has also had success against Greinke, posting a .333 average with four jacks and nine RBI in just 24 at-bats.
On the contrary, Greinke has cooled off Arenado and Blackmon. Both are hitting below .280 lifetime with zero homers against the 33-year-old in nearly 50 plate appearances each. Blackmon has also struck out 11 times in 49 at-bats.
Still, Arizona has to be feel good about its chances Wednesday with Greinke on the hill. He has allowed less than three runs in his last six postseason starts, which should give the Diamondbacks offense enough support to attack an inexperienced Gray.
Arizona also posted the NL's second-best home record in 2017 at 52-29, so look for it to advance through the wild-card round.
On the other hand, it will be strength against strength when the ALDS begins on Thursday.
The Yankees bullpen put on a masterful performance after Luis Severino lasted just one out in his playoff debut. New York allowed one run over the next 8.2 innings, as its deep stable of electric arms flashed its might, per Fox Sports:
That group did not even include four-time All-Star Dellin Betances and his potentially overwhelming stuff, or Adam Warren. Simply, this unit is good enough to go five or six innings of shutdown baseball every night this postseason, but that is nothing new for the Indians.
Cleveland used a similar strategy in its World Series run a year ago, and the bullpen is lights-out once again. Featuring studs like Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, the Indians led MLB this year with an ERA of 2.89 among their relievers.
This helped Cleveland get the better of New York in the regular season, per ESPN Stats and Info:
While this series looks to be a tight one due to the expected lack of scoring from the bullpen, the Indians have to be a slight favorite here. They will have home-field advantage in the short five-game series, and their three set starters of Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and likely Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber are far more reliable than what the Yankees can start.
Starting pitching should be the difference in this matchup, as Cleveland's odds of handing its bullpen a lead are slightly better at the moment.
Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.