The NLCS is the beer series

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There’s a fun article over at the New York Times today, reminding us that when St. Louis meets Milwaukee it’s not just the Cards and Brewers facing off, but Budweiser and Miller beer facing off as well.

No, not directly, as Anheuser-Busch no longer has an ownership stake in the Cards and Miller’s connection to the Brewers goes no further than the ballpark’s naming rights.  And of course, given that both of those brewers are no longer truly creatures of their native homes — AB is owned by a Belgian company and Miller a British one — the city vs. city aspects of  all of this is more of a historical artifact than a living rivalry. But the historic aspects of it all are still kind of interesting.

Also interesting: this factoid, which is rather — wait, I almost said “sobering.”  The opposite of that:

And the beer-drinking intensifies in October. Fans consume 19.8 ounces of beer per person during the postseason at Busch Stadium, 75 percent more than during a regular-season game, according to Delaware North. Fans in Milwaukee have been drinking 20 percent more in this postseason than in the regular season, Delaware North said.

Just as long as none of that is in the clubhouse.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.