All four starters for Game 163 announced
Today: Cubs to host Crew, 1 p.m. ET; LA to host Rox, 4 p.m. (both on ESPN)
The last time there was a Game 163 to determine the division was in 2009, when the Twins walked off against the Tigers, 6-5, in 12 innings.
Who were the starters in that game? Rick Porcello went for the Tigers, while Scott Baker was tabbed for the Twins at the Metrodome.
• 2018 postseason schedule
With the Cubs preparing to host the Brewers (1 p.m. ET) and the Dodgers set to host the Rockies (4 p.m.) in today's two tiebreakers on ESPN, here's a look at who's expected to start the pivotal contests, as well as potential starters for the National League Wild Card Game and the NL Division Series.
The Brewers didn't name a starter for Game 162 (Giovany Gonzalez) until the night before, and they waited until the morning of their tiebreaker game against the Cubs to tab Jhoulys Chacin at Wrigley Field. Chacin, their most reliable pitcher, had been lined up to pitch the NL Wild Card Game. He was bumped up a day, which would leave leave Milwaukee in Johnny Wholestaff mode for the NL Wild Card Game, which the club obviously hopes it won't have to deal with.
The Brewers tend to have success when Chacin is on the hill, going 22-12 in his 34 starts. For his part, Chacin has won a career-high 15 games this season.
-- Adam McCalvy
Now that we know the Cubs and Brewers will indeed play Game 163 on today to determine the NL Central winner, Jose Quintana (13-11, 4.09 ERA) has been confirmed as Chicago's starter. Quintana is 7-4 with a 4.28 ERA at Wrigley Field this season, but more important, he's 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA in six starts against Milwaukee this season. That includes 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Sept. 11 at Wrigley. The Brewers are batting .177 against him. Christian Yelich, by the way, is 1-for-11 vs. Quintana.
Jonathan Lester (18-6, 3.32 ERA) is in line to pitch the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday. Lester has been the workhorse for the Cubs, and this season marks seven in a row in which he's made at least 32 starts. Lester is 7-4 with a 3.71 ERA at Wrigley Field this season. The left-hander has started the first game of a postseason series 10 times and also made one Wild Card Game start for the Athletics on Sept. 30, 2014, against the Royals. He did not get a decision in that game, which went 12 innings. Lester allowed six earned runs over 7 1/3 innings.
If Lester is needed to pitch in relief in the tiebreaker and the Cubs advance, Kyle Hendricks (14-11, 3.44 ERA) would most likely open the NL Division Series. Hendricks is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 10 postseason starts, including Game 1 of the NLDS against the Nationals last year, when he threw seven shutout innings in a 3-0 win. This season, Hendricks set a career high in innings pitched (199) and has finished strong, going 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA in September.
-- Carrie Muskat
Walker Buehler will start Game 163 today against Colorado, after he was held back from his scheduled start on Sunday (replaced by Rich Hill). Today's game in Los Angeles is not an elimination game, but winning it would allow the Dodgers to rest their bullpen until the Thursday start of the NLDS.
It should be noted that today's game will be played with a 40-man roster, while the NL Wild Card Game has a 25-man roster that can leave off pitchers used in Game 163.
If the Dodgers get to Game 1 of the NLDS, Clayton Kershaw would be on regular rest after starting on Saturday, and Hyun-Jin Ryu would have one extra day of rest after starting on Friday.
-- Ken Gurnick
Right-hander German Marquez -- coming off modern-record-tying strikeouts of the first eight batters and 11 K's total in seven innings against the Phillies -- gets the call for today's tiebreaker game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Manager Bud Black can now hope to use lefty Kyle Freeland -- the team's most consistent pitcher this season -- to open the NLDS. But if the Rockies lose the tiebreaker with Marquez on the mound, Black most likely will have to ask Freeland to pitch on short rest in the NL Wild Card Game. Freeland struggled early in his last start at home against Washington, giving up two runs on 11 hits in six innings. Ideally, Freeland would simply open the NLDS on Thursday.
Righty Antonio Senzatela is the other NL Wild Card Game option on regular rest, but in his past two starts, his fastball command either waned (in the final two of his seven innings vs. Arizona) or been nonexistent (in 4 2/3 innings against Philadelphia). But in those starts, he gave up just one run apiece. If Freeland is needed on Tuesday, Senzatela could start Game 1 of the NLDS on an extra day's rest. The other option in that case would be righty Jon Gray, but one reason the Rox are in this predicament is his five-run, two-inning debacle Saturday against Washington.
-- Thomas Harding