The National League West title comes down to Game 163 between the Dodgers and Rockies, to be played today. By going 12-7 against Colorado during the regular season, the Dodgers earned home-field advantage for the head-to-head tiebreaker after both clubs went 91-71.
Here are the nuts and bolts for the showdown, with the winner advancing to the NL Division Series with home-field advantage vs. the Braves, and the loser playing Tuesday in the Wild Card Game on the road:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Today at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT/2 p.m. MT on ESPN.
Do the stats count?
Yes, it's a regular-season game, so the stats count. And teams will also have access to the expanded 40-man rosters they've had all September. That makes for an interesting conclusion to the NL home runs race. Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado enters today leading the league with 37 home runs. But Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and the Brewers' Christian Yelich, who is facing off against the Cubs in another Game 163, each have 36.
What do the starting lineups look like?
Charlie Blackmon, CF
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
David Dahl, LF
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Trevor Story, SS
Carlos Gonzalez, RF
Ian Desmond, 1B
Tony Wolters, C
German Marquez, RHP
That's a normal lineup against a righty, with left-handed-hitting Wolters catching Marquez. In 22 starts with Wolters behind the plate, Marquez has a 2.99 ERA with 162 strikeouts to 34 walks, and a .237 batting average against.
Joc Pederson, LF
Justin Turner, 3B
Player Page for Max Muncy, 1B
Manny Machado, SS
Yasmani Grandal, C
Cody Bellinger, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Enrique Hernandez, 2B
Walker Buehler, RHP
This essentially is the lineup the Dodgers have recently used against right-handers. The Dodgers haven't faced Marquez since June 30, pre-Machado. Bellinger is 1-for-15 against Marquez, Grandal 1-for-9 and Turner 2-for-11.
Who are the starting pitchers and how long will they last?
Rockies: Marquez had two of his best starts of the season at Dodger Stadium.
Marquez held the Dodgers to one run and two hits in seven innings of a 2-1 victory May 21. He finished with five strikeouts against two walks. That game also featured Gonzalez's pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth for the go-ahead run and a hustle play by Wolters to end the game. Wolters backed up first on a wild throw and fired to Desmond to tag out Kemp, who had made a move toward second.
On June 30, Marquez struck out nine while limiting the Dodgers to one run on two hits in a 3-1 game. That one was best remembered for one pitch. Marquez blew a 99.9 mph fastball past Hernandez in the eighth inning. At the time it was the hardest pitch thrown by a starter this season, eighth inning or later.
Marquez's delivery was surpassed by Nathan Eovaldi (100.4 mph) in his second start for the Red Sox on Aug. 4.
"The adrenaline was off the charts, but that's already in the past," Marquez said. "I've got to continue to prepare myself and get ready for tomorrow."
Dodgers: Buehler will be pitching on an extra day of rest after being held back from his scheduled Sunday start. He was throttled back in April to conserve workload that would allow him to be turned loose for games like this. His last five starts have been no shorter than six innings with a long of eight innings. His pitch count high this year is 105, done twice.
How will the bullpen line up after the starter?
Rockies: This is where Tyler Anderson's 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Sunday's 12-0 victory over the Nationals was so important.
Righty Seunghwan Oh replaced Anderson and faced just one batter in the eighth, and lefty Chris Rusin gave up one hit and struck out one in the ninth. Both should be available, and the Rockies will have all their other right-handed lead-protectors -- Scott Oberg, Adam Ottavino and closer Wade Davis -- well-rested.
Dodgers: This will be a focal point. Closer Kenley Jansen hasn't been dominant and there's no set setup man. But starter-turned-reliever Kenta Maeda gets high-leverage work, as does Pedro Baez, who has been under-the-radar great the last two months. From the left side, Scott Alexander has been inconsistent while Alex Wood has been tough since coming out of the rotation, although he might be held back as a potential Wild Card Game starter.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Rockies: Turning to righty Chad Bettis after his three one-run innings Saturday night might be questionable, but beyond that the bullpen should be in good shape.
Dodgers:Dylan Floro hasn't pitched in nearly a week, for unknown reasons. Usage of Caleb Ferguson and Josh Fields has been sporadic lately, but in part that's because there are 15 arms in the bullpen. JT Chargois and Julio Urias pitched in relief Sunday.
Any injuries of note?
Nothing of note for either team.
Any matchups to watch for?
Oberg (8-1, 2.48 ERA in 55 games) and Ottavino (112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings) have been among the top righty relievers, but each one has Dodgers hitters they need to handle with care.
All three of Pederson's hits off Oberg have been homers, and Puig, Turner and Muncy also have gone deep off him. On the flip side with Pederson, Oberg has ended five of their 11 matchups with strikeouts and hasn't walked him.
Against Ottavino, the switch-hitting Grandal is 5-for-13, Puig is 6-for-11 with two doubles and a homer, Kemp is 4-for-8 with a homer and Pederson is 3-for-6 with a double.
Desmond is 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts against Jansen. Story is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Fields.
How have the Dodgers fared against Marquez this season, and how have the Rockies fared against Buehler?
Marquez is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 0.762 WHIP in three starts against the Dodgers this year. Both wins came at Dodger Stadium. Buehler is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in five starts against the Rockies this year. He has two no-decisions against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium this year.
If the Rockies lose today and play a Wild Card Game on Tuesday, who will start? If they advance to the NL Division Series, what will the starting rotation be?
Under ideal circumstances, the Rockies win today and lefty Kyle Freeland starts an NLDS opener at Coors Field.
If the Rockies lose the tiebreaker today, manager Bud Black most likely will have to ask Freeland to pitch on short rest in the Wild Card Game. Freeland labored early in his last start, at home against Washington, but gave up two runs despite 11 hits in six innings.
Righty Antonio Senzatela is the other Wild Card Game option on regular rest, but in his last two starts his fastball command either waned (in the final two of his seven innings at Arizona) or was nonexistent (in 4 2/3 innings against Philadelphia). But in those starts he gave up just one run apiece.
If Marquez and Freeland are needed today and Tuesday, and the Rox advance to an NLDS against the NL Central champ Thursday, Senzatela would be available with an extra day's rest. That would line up Anderson, coming off 7 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday against the Nationals, for Game 2, then Freeland and Marquez would be rested for Games 3 and 4 in Denver.
Of course, the Rockies could pull what would seem a surprise and give a start to the mercurial righty Jon Gray, who excelled (seven innings, one run) last Monday against the Phillies but bombed against the Nationals (two innings, five runs) on Saturday.
If the Dodgers lose today and play a Wild Card Game on Tuesday, who will start? If they advance to the NL Division Series, what will the starting rotation be?
Manager Dave Roberts hasn't announced a Wild Card Game starter, but it likely will be a bullpen game and Wood figures to start it or have a prominent role. In the NLDS, Clayton Kershaw will be rested to start a Game 1 on Thursday, followed by Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Buehler.