Diamondbacks-Rockies a long awaited NL Wild Card matchup

According to Root Sports’ Ryan Spilborghs, Geraldo Parra promised to dye his hair purple if the Colorado Rockies clinched a playoff spot. It came down to the final weekend of the regular season but “Rocktober” returns after an eight-year hiatus and Parra lived up to his promise.

Parra was on the last Arizona Diamondbacks team to reach the postseason. Back in 2011, Parra was part of an outfield group that included Chris Young (who is now in the playoffs with the Boston Red Sox) and Justin Upton. That year, Parra won the first of his two Gold Gloves and slashed a nifty .292/.357.427 and stole 15 bases.

This year, Parra batted .311 with 10 home runs and a career high 71 RBI. While in the visitor’s dugout in Chase Field, he’ll see former Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta behind home plate for the Diamondbacks.

It’s only natural that the Diamondbacks and Rockies would meet each other in the highly pressurized Wild Card game that will either mean a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers or the end of a exciting season.

This Wild Card matchup was one that felt like it was set in stone from the beginning. The Diamondbacks held one to the top Wild Card spot from the beginning. Had it not been for the juggernaut this is the Dodgers, The Diamondbacks would be good enough for a division title. Arizona has a better record than the NL Central leading Chicago Cubs (92-70), who were coming off a World Series Championship.

The Diamondbacks finished this season with a 93-69 record, which is a complete 180 compared to last season, in which they went 69-93. What the Diamondbacks are doing now is what was expected out of them last season, after the uniform rebrand and the acquisitions of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller and Jean Segura. Chip Hale was fired at the end of last season and Segura was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker, who posted a solid 3.49 ERA this season.

Greinke lived up to his billing as the ace and the rock of the rotation with a 17-7 record, a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 202.1 innings pitched. Robbie Ray enjoyed a breakout season with a 15-5 record, a team leading 2.89 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 168 innings pitched. Fernando Rodney is the ageless wonder, nailing down 39 saves in his age 40th season.

The Diamondbacks have the pitching staff that is best suited to take on the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, but the Rockies have the bats. Colorado has produced two NL MVP candidates in third baseman Nolan Arenado (.309/.373/.586, 37 HR, 130 RBI) and center fielder Charlie Blackmon (1.000 OPS, 37 HR, 104 RBI). Mark Reynolds hit 30 home runs for the first time since 2011, his first season with the Baltimore Orioles. Trevor Story has set a career high in RBI with 82, despite also setting a career high in strikeouts. Carlos Gonzalez is the lone holdover from the Rockies’ last postseason trip and is still a solid bat in the lineup, even if not a featured threat like before.

The Diamondbacks also have the bats to succeed in the playoffs, especially at home. Paul Goldschmidt has played like an MVP all season with a .297/.404/.563 slash line, 36 home runs and 120 RBI, but it was the mid-season addition of right fielder JD Martinez that made the difference. All-Star third baseman Jake Lamb finished the season with 30 home runs and 105 RBI. Martinez smacked 29 homers in 65 games since the trade. His full season stats (.305, 45 HR, 104 RBI) makes him the hitter to truly fear in the Arizona lineup, especially when he’s protecting Goldschmidt and has Lamb behind him.

There is also a little added rivalry between the two teams. Rockies relief pitcher Pat Neshek is known as an autograph hound disguised as a pro baseball player. The Neshek met with Greinke during the All-Star Game in Miami back when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. According to Neshek, Greinke agreed to sign something for him at a later date.  Neshek gets traded to the Rockies and thus has more chances to meet with Greinke and retrieve that coveted autograph.

Instead he got the stiff arm.

“I asked him at the all star game if he would sign for me and he said he would… so a couple weeks ago we played them and I sent over the cards I needed signed… basically 3 league leaders cards with Kershaw and Wainwright already done and 2 from 2015 to complete the set,” Neshek wrote under the username “heat17” on SportsCollectors.net. “He said no… I waited around for him during batting practice and went up to him and he totally denied having the conversation at the all star game… I then asked why this was a problem and he said it’s because “I wear him out.” Hard to wear someone out when he has never signed for me. This is the only a-hole in major league baseball that has been a turd to me.

“So going back to the conversation I said can you just get these done it will take 5 seconds… just draw a little z on them for me… He said no I will never sign for you… I walked away… a couple minutes later I confronted him in the outfield while he was jogging and told him what I thought of him… he just kept on running then said I wouldn’t even sign for your kid if he asked…. I wanted to laugh knowing he had probably thought of that line for a long time and that was the best he could come up with… I then let him know what I thought of him again and being the socially awkward guy he is ran back to the dugout and went inside. Soooo I’m done with this guy. I’m basically gonna have to trade with someone on here to 50/50 them down the road.”

One could only hope for both pitchers to play in this game on Wednesday.

 

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