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Dodgers hand the ball to Walker Buehler for Game 163

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Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

When the Dodgers were mired in a tough 16-26 stretch to open their season, manager Dave Roberts made a statement he believed to be true.

“When it’s all said and done, the Dodgers will be at the top of the division.”

Completing the sweep of the Giants Sunday gives Robert’s team the opportunity to prove him right. The Rockies and Dodgers will settle the NL West Monday at 1:09 p.m. PT with the winner hosting the Braves Thursday, while the loser heads to the wild card game to face either Chicago or Milwaukee.

Originally slated to pitch Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, Walker Buehler will now get the ball Monday in the decisive game in Los Angeles. Rich Hill filled in nicely, shutting the Giants down for seven innings in a 15-0 drubbing.

After Colorado lost Saturday night, the powers that be for the Dodgers made the switch to Buehler, believing the 24-year-old rookie gives them the best chance to win against a powerful Rockies offense.

“Our goal is to win the division,” said Roberts. “With Walker rested and having an extra day and right now, he’s our best. To win this game, to win the division, it’s in our hands -- at home.”

Buehler hasn’t been shy about the amount of confidence he has in himself. His Dodger teammates are more than happy to have him out there after he has pitched like an ace since July.

Over his last 11 starts, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in 68 23 innings, striking out 84 and allowing just 40 hits.

Monday will be Buehler’s sixth start against Colorado this season. In the previous five, he yielded nine earned runs, eight of which came in two of the three starts at Coors Field.

Throwing opposite of Buehler will be German Marquez, a 23-year-old righty that has had success against the Dodgers. In two starts at Chavez Ravine this season, Marquez has held the Dodgers to a combined two runs in 15 innings of work.

“(Marquez) has pitched us tough,” said Roberts. “It’s going to be a battle. We’re going to grind and put together good at-bats and I’m sure they’re going to do the same. But I like our guy.”

It would be nice for the Dodgers to have a fresh starter in their back pocket for a potential wild card game should things go sideways Monday afternoon. But it’s a luxury they don’t have at the moment with the way Ross Stripling has thrown the ball, making a win in Game 163 the best case scenario.

“Obviously it’s not do-or-die but I think that it’s a must-win game,” Roberts added. “To win the game and get a couple days off and to host the division series is very important.”

So they will hand the ball to their rising star, with the sixth straight division title at stake.

“He’s all in.”