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Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAfter a thrilling Monday of bonus
baseball to determine the NL Central and NL West champions Phil
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, the playoff bracket is finally set.The Chicago
Cubs and Colorado Rockies both came up short in Game 163, and now they'll meet
in the NL Wild Card Game for the right to move on to an NLDS matchup with the
Milwaukee Brewers.Ahead is everything you need to know about this year's NL Wild
Card Game, with the pertinent viewing information and a full preview of the
game. NL Wild Card Game:Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago CubsWhere:Wrigley Field,
ChicagoDate:Tuesday, October 2Time:8 p.m. ETTV:ESPNLive Stream:WatchESPN
PreviewKyle FreelandChris Coduto/Getty ImagesThe Cubs head into the wild-card
game with the bitter taste of squandering a division title and home-field
advantage on the National League side of the bracket still fresh in their
mouths.While they won 95 games, a 6-6 finish to the season ended up being all it
took for the streaking Brewers to finish erasing what had been a five-game lead
in the standings on Sept. 2.The Rockies, on the other hand, were in third place
in the NL West standings at the start of the day on Sept. 2, but a 19-9 final
month that included a plus-59 run differential was enough for them to leapfrog
the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings and the St. Louis Cardinals in
the wild-card picture.Now those two clubs face a win-or-go-home matchup at
Wrigley Field.The Cubs will turn to veteran ace Jon Lester and his wealth of
postseason experience, while the Rockies will hand the ball to young standout
Kyle Freeland.Lester:32 GS, 18-6, 3.32 ERA Brett
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, 1.31 WHIP, 149 K, 181.2 IP, 3.4 WARFreeland:33 GS,
17-7, 2.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 173 K, 202.1 IP, 8.4 WARLester last pitched on
Thursday, when he threw six scoreless innings of three-hit ball against the
Pittsburgh Pirates, so he'll be on normal rest.However ,
Freeland pitched on Friday, when he gave up 11 hits but just two runs against
the Washington Nationals for his 17th win of the season.The 25-year-old has
pitched on three days rest just once in his MLB career, and it did not go well.
He lasted just three innings and allowed five hits and two earned runs.That
could be the difference.That said, Freeland was solid against the Cubs at
Wrigley Field back on April 30 in his lone start against them this year. He went
seven innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs, taking the tough-luck
loss.Lester also pitched in that game, allowing five hits and two unearned runs
over 5.2 innings for a no-decision. That was his lone start against the Rockies
this year.Anthony RizzoJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe two teams split the
season series 3-3 and scored an identical 33 runs in the process, but their two
meetings came at the end of April and start of May, so it's fair to say they are
both different teams now.As far as hitters to watch, Anthony Rizzo is swinging a
hot bat for the Cubs.He went 4-for-4 with two doubles on Sunday, then crushed a
home run to deep right field on Monday.For the Rockies, David Dahl has crushed
six home runs in his past eight games, and he posted a 1.012 OPS with nine home
runs and 27 RBI in September.We've seen time and again that anything can happen
in the wild-card game Brian
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, so we won't bother making any predictions. But if
the final month of the regular season is any indication of what we can expect
from this year's postseason, buckle up.All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.
Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesThe Washington Nationals' ownership group "refused
to approve" a trade involving Bryce Harper the day before MLB's July 31
non-waiver trade deadline, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported
Saturday.According to Rosenthal, the Nationals had a preliminary agreement in
place with the Houston Astros before the deal was scuttled.Rosenthal wrote the
Nationals would've received minor league pitcher J.B. Bukauskas. The
right-hander is the No. 8 prospect in the Houston minor league system, per, and finished 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 appearances across five
levels.Two other prospects would've joined Bukauskas in the trade.Rosenthal
reported the Nationals owners decided against trading Harper because they
"feared that trading him would harm their relationship with the player and
reduce their chances of signing him."It's impossible to say whether Harper's
presence would've resulted in a different outcome in the American League
Championship Series. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Astros in five games,
scoring 27 runs as they reeled off four straight victories to claim the AL
pennant. Boston succeeded in attacking the Houston pitchers, so Harper may not
have changed anything.The Astros weren't the only World Series contender to make
a play for Harper. The Los Angeles Times' Jorge Castillo reported Wednesday the
Los Angeles Dodgers offered Yasiel Puig in a trade package to no avail.The
Washington Post's Chelsea Janes reported Wednesday the Nationals offered Harper
$300 million over 10 years in late September but that the 26-year-old turned it
down.If Harper signs elsewhere, then Rosenthal's and Castillo's reports could
put more heat on the Nationals. Losing Harper would be a tough blow for the
franchise, and the fanbase may grow even more frustrated with the knowledge
Washington could've flipped Harper for prospects or an everyday MLB outfielder.
If he departs, the Nats would only get back a compensation draft pick.
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