Colorado Rockies +110, o/u 7 at Arizona Diamondbacks, 8:35 pm Eastern Thursday, TBS
by Zman of Predictem.com
A couple of pre-season longshots will face off with a World Series berth on the line when the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks open their best-of-seven National League Championship Series Thursday night in Phoenix.
Colorado is the hottest team in baseball, having won 17 of its last 18 games. That included a 13-1 run to end the regular season, a win in a one-game playoff over the San Diego Padres, and a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in an NL divisional-round series.
Arizona won the NL West by a game over the Rocks and the Pads, then swept the Chicago Cubs in three games in the divisional round.
Before this season started, Arizona was listed at right around 15/1 to win the National League pennant and 35/1 to win the World Series, while Colorado was a 35/1 shot to win the pennant and upwards of 70/1 to win the Series.
For this series, the Rockies are listed as a -125 favorite, with the D-Backs getting +105.
Neither of these two teams has played since last Saturday.
Colorado won the season series with Arizona this year 10 games to eight, outscoring the D-Backs 86-72. The o/u went 8-9-1 in the series this season, and the 18 games averaged 8.8 runs per.
The Rockies went just 39-42 on the road this season, while Arizona went 50-31 at Chase Field.
Lefty Jeff Francis (17-9, 4.22) gets the start in the series opener Thursday night for Colorado against defending Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb (18-10, 3.01) for the D-Backs.
Francis made one start vs. Philly in the NLDS last week, going six innings, giving up two ER and six baserunners in a 4-2 Rockies win. During the regular season, Colorado went 23-12 in games Francis started, the o/u 13-18.
Francis started three times vs. Arizona this season, allowing six ER and 25 baserunners in 19 IP. The Rocks went 2-1 in those games.
Webb made one start in the NLDS last week, holding the Cubs to one ER on seven baserunners in seven IP of a 3-1 D-Backs victory. During the regular season, the Desert Snakes went 23-12 in Webb’s starts, the o/u 11-20.
But Webb has had his problems vs. Colorado; he made six starts vs. the Rockies this year, and got bopped around for 25 ER and 60 baserunners in 39 IP. Arizona went 3-3 in those games. And yet Webb is the last pitcher to beat the Rockies; he held them to two ER in seven innings of a 4-2 Diamondbacks win Sept. 28.
The Colorado offensive attack posted a team OBP this season of .354, which ranked third-best in the majors, and averaged a robust 5.3 runs per game.
On the other side, the Diamondbacks ranked 29th (that’s out of 30 teams, folks) in team OBP at .321, and averaged 4.4 RPG.
The Rockies bullpen ranked 10th in the majors this season with a 3.85 ERA and fifth with a 1.30 WHIP. And Colorado relievers were pretty effective during the NLDS last week, holding the Phillies to one ER and 10 baserunners over 11 2/3 innings of work.
The Arizona pen ranked 12th in the league this year with its 3.95 ERA and 10th with a 1.34 WHIP. And D-Backs relievers held the Cubs scoreless last week in the NLDS over 8 1/3 IP.
The o/u went 82-74 in Rockies games this season, 74-84 in Arizona games, and 41-32 at Chase Field, where games averaged 9.4 runs per.
Zman’s Pick: I like the Brandon Webb to pitch a strong game tonight and the D-Backs to win at home.