The Brewers will be well-rested. The Rockies will be battle-tested.
Those teams will meet in a best-of-five National League Division Series after knocking off the Cubs at Wrigley Field on consecutive days in back-to-back thrillers. The Brewers beat Chicago in Monday's NL Central tiebreaker to earn the league's top seed, home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs and a couple of welcome days off. It was their eighth straight win, dating back to Sept. 23. The Rockies had to play three straight days in three different time zones, capped by a 13-inning, 2-1 win over the Cubs in an epic NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night.
Over the next week, they will meet at Miller Park and Coors Field for a Suds Series.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
The starting lineups
Rockies: This is the usual lineup against a right-handed starter. Is this grouping capable of big offensive performances? Of course. Is it capable of outages? Just put it this way: the Rockies are in the postseason with the lowest regular-season batting average (.256) in the club's 26-season history. But late-inning savoir faire, solid infield defense and, of course, pitching are this team's calling cards.
1. Charlie Blackmon, CF
2. DJ LeMahieu, 2B
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. David Dahl, LF
5. Trevor Story, SS
6. Carlos Gonzalez, RF
7. Ian Desmond, 1B
8. Chris Iannetta, C
9. Antonio Senzatela, RHP
Brewers: The Brewers were fourth in the NL in OPS but better down the stretch, ranking second after GM David Stearns added Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop to the infield mix at the non-waiver Trade Deadline to give manager Craig Counsell a slew of matchup options. On Aug. 31, Stearns picked up Curtis Granderson to provide similar flexibility in the outfield.
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Travis Shaw, 2B
5. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Manny Pina, C
8. Orlando Arcia, SS
9. Brandon Woodruff, RHP
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rockies: Manager Bud Black said after Tuesday's game that Senzatela (6-6, 4.38 ERA) is the likely Game 1 starter. "We'll work through that, maybe as early as on the bus ride up, right?" Black said. That leads to lefty Tyler Anderson starting Friday's second game on regular rest after his 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Sunday's 162nd game at home against the Nationals. Lefty Kyle Freeland (17-7, 2.85), who threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Tuesday's NL Wild Card win, could then be slotted in for Sunday's first postseason game at Coors Field since 2009. Righty German Marquez (14-11, 3.77) would fall into place for Game 4 on Monday.
Brewers: Counsell announced on Wednesday that the Brewers would use an "opener" for Game 1, though he didn't name him -- no surprise, considering the Brewers didn't reveal who would start Monday's NL Central tiebreaker at Wrigley Field until three hours before the first pitch. About seven and a half hours before the first pitch of the NLDS, the team said it would start 25-year-old Brandon Woodruff, who made 17 Triple-A starts this season and four in the Majors, but who was best out of the bullpen down the stretch, compiling a 0.73 ERA while striking out 16 in 12 1/3 innings in September. He got knocked around in Denver on May 11 to the tune of seven earned runs on nine hits in three innings of a game in which the Brewers overcame a six-run deficit to win in 10 innings. However, Woodruff only allowed one run the first time through the order of that May game. Everything else happened the second time through. Today, he's probably just going to face every batter once.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rockies: The Wild Card Game went 13 innings, but Black kept things close to normal. He usually reserved righty Adam Ottavino until the eighth but went to him in the seventh Tuesday and to closer Wade Davis for the final out of the eighth. Righty Seunghwan Oh, lefty Chris Rusin and righty Scott Oberg -- all of whom usually appear before Ottavino and Davis when the Rockies protect a lead, were the right calls in extra innings. Expect no drastic changes in how Black will use his 'pen, and as long as he can ride his starters the way he did during the regular season, the relievers should be in good shape.
Brewers: The tiebreaker offered a roadmap. Starter Jhoulys Chacin made it 5 2/3 innings before Counsell finished the sixth with lefty Xavier Cedeno and Joakim Soria, then used Corey Knebel in the seventh and lefty weapon Josh Hader to finish the game because closer Jeremy Jeffress was unavailable. Those are the Brewers' "A" relievers, with rookie Corbin Burnes pitching brilliantly lately and available along the way for multiple innings if needed. Hader is the key, after a season in which he led MLB relievers and set a Brewers relief record with 143 strikeouts. But also look for big innings from Knebel, who was so sharp after returning from a late-August demotion to Triple-A that he was named NL Reliever of the Month for September.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Rockies: No. The bullpen struggled while lefties Mike Dunn (out for the year with left shoulder surgery) and Jake McGee and righty Bryan Shaw all dealt with injuries or slumps or both during the regular season. But it's possible none of them will be on the NLDS roster, especially if Black goes with three catchers. Among the group pitching now, Oh's September hamstring tweak was the only injury and that's long gone.
Brewers: No, although the Jeffress situation is worth monitoring. It was a surprise when Hader was left in Monday's game to face Javier Baez with two outs in the ninth inning and Woodruff warmed up instead of Jeffress, who was unscored upon in 63 of his 73 appearances on the way to a 1.29 ERA. The Brewers did not provide any details about what sidelined Jeffress, though Stearns, Milwaukee's GM, said Jeffress will be a full participant in the NLDS.
Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Rockies: It's an all-for-one, one-for-all offense. They surge as a team and slump as a team. The last two games they've scored a total of four runs, but they won the one that counted. Blackmon, Arenado, Dahl and Story came into the postseason hitting, and two down games isn't enough to scuttle that feeling.
Brewers: You might have heard that Yelich is hot. He is the first batting champion in Brewers history, and his .770 slugging percentage after the All-Star break was a whopping 145 points better than the next qualified player in MLB, Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. (.625). Yelich led all NL hitters with a .352/.500/.807 slash line with 10 homers over 26 games in September to win the league's Player of the Month honor. On the other end of the spectrum is Schoop, who delivered a huge moment when he hit a go-ahead grand slam off Madison Bumgarner on Sept. 9, but had a disappointing .577 OPS in 134 Brewers plate appearances. He continued to garner playing time against left-handers, however.
Anything else fans might want to know?
The Brewers won both regular-season series against the Rockies, taking three of four at Coors Field in May capped by right-hander Freddy Peralta's 13-strikeout Major League debut, then two of three at Miller Park in August beginning with Eric Thames' walk-off homer against Davis. Both Peralta and Thames are on Milwaukee's NLDS roster bubble. Senzatela made his Major League debut at Miller Park and won it -- five scoreless innings, two hits, six strikeouts and three walks in a 2-1 victory April 6, 2017.