National League Central and West Division Titles to be Decided Today: Times, Pitching Matchups, and Predictions

Normally on Monday morning we would be giving you a recap of Sunday's NFL games. However with the Major League Baseball postseason about to start, that will take precedence over recapping the regular season of football. We have two division titles yet to be decided in the National League as the Dodgers and Rockies will face off to determine who wins the NL West and who goes to the NL Wild Card Game. The same goes for the Cubs and Brewers as well when they square off to decide the winner of the NL Central on Monday. There is no time to waste as these games will be played early on in the day, so let us jump right into it.

NL Central Showdown:

Milwaukee Brewers (95-67) @ Chicago Cubs (95-67) 1:05 PM EST, ESPN

Probable Starters: Jhoulys Chacin (15-8, 3.56 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (13-11, 4.09 ERA)

Milwaukee ended the regular season winning seven straight to position themselves in a tie with Chicago for the division title. They will look to avoid the one-game playoff against the loser of the Rockies-Dodgers game later this afternoon as they send Jhoulys Chacin to take the mound. Chacin pitched against the Cubs four times this season, going 2-2 in those starts. Those two wins he got were both shutout performances by the right-handed pitcher and although he was lined up to pitch in the wild card game, the Brewers elected to use him in Game 163 on their season to win a division title. The offense has been averaging eight runs a game during their current win streak, but lost the head-to-head matchup with the Cubs, 11-8 this season.

Meanwhile, the Cubs will send left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana to the mound with a chance at a third consecutive division title for the franchise. Quintana has had a rocky season up to this point, but he has been money against the Brewers. He is 4-1 in six starts against Milwaukee this year with a 2.17 ERA which bodes well for a Chicago team looking to avoid the wild card game. In their last seven games, the Cubs are 4-3 which allowed the Brewers to get back into the division race. But the advantage Chicago has in this matchup is they have postseason experience which should help them since they understand what is at stake. Regular season success does not always translate to postseason success and while the Brewers have had an impressive regular season, they lack an extensive number of players with deep postseason runs under their belt. Quintana and Chacin will duel it out for a few innings before the Cubs break through and take this one from the Brew Crew en route to a division title.

Cubs 4, Brewers 2

NL West Showdown:

Colorado Rockies (91-71) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71) 4:09 PM EST, ESPN

Probable Starters: German Marquez (14-10, 3.76 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler (7-5, 2.76 ERA)

The Rockies have a chance to do something they have never done in the history of the franchise, win the NL West. They were swept by the Dodgers a little over a week ago before going on a torrid run in which the team won 9 of their last 10 games, including an eight-game win streak that propelled them ahead of the Dodgers by a game with two games left in the season. However, that sole loss in their final stretch ended up sending them into a tie with Los Angeles heading into the final game of the season in which both teams won. They will send right-hander German Marquez to the mound, Marquez is 2-0 on the season versus the Dodgers with a 2.57 ERA and both of those games were at Dodgers Stadium. The third-year player has allowed three or less runs in each of his last 12 starts dating back to late-July which is a positive for the Rockies.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers were unable to take the division following a sweep of the Rockies. They followed the sweep of Colorado by winning seven of their last 10 games but it was simply not enough to keep pace with the run their division rivals made to nearly snatch the division away from them. The offense has swung the bats well, averaging 6.6 runs per game over their last 10 which includes back-to-back games against the Giants to end the season in which they scored 10+ runs. They send second-year pitcher Walker Buehler to the mound at home after moving him back from making in start on Sunday. The right-hander has dealt with some injury troubles this season, but has been reliable for the Dodgers when he is available. He has faced the Rockies in five of his starts this season, going 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA. While Buehler has not taken a win in any of those five starts, the Dodgers as a team are 2-3 versus the Rockies when he takes the hill. Similar to the Cubs, the Dodgers have postseason experience which will be key, but the way the Rockies have been playing makes me sway this game in their favor even if it is on the road. This should be a duel on the mound and it whoever makes the first mistake will likely decide which way this game swings.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 2

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