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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Rockies series preview

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The Rockies have been one of the best teams in baseball this year.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

How have the Rockies accomplished their first-place standing? I asked Bryan Kilpatrick of our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row to fill us in.

Well, it’s June 8, and the Colorado Rockies are still atop the National League West.

Not many April and May days went by without naysayers pointing out that there was still too much time left and that the Rockies would end up doing what they always do, but a strange thing is happening: the team keeps getting better, not worse, with each passing day. Colorado enters its road series against the Chicago Cubs with a 38-23 record, marking the first time the club has been 15 games over .500 since September of 2010.

How are the Rockies doing it? First off, four rookie starting pitchers—Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, and Antonio Senzatela—have combined to win 22 out of 30 decisions and post a 3.61 ERA. Of the quartet, only Hoffman has been able to consistently miss bats, and he’s only made three starts. But the others have shown a knack for limiting hard contact, avoiding walks, and getting timely ground balls.

Additionally, the team’s offense has awakened a bit. Since the Rockies’ last series against the Cubs, from whom they took two of three at Coors Field last month, a trio of players have begun to climb out of early season holes.

The always-streaky Carlos Gonzalez is hitting for the type of power he’s been accustomed to during his nine-year big league career but owns a .297/.389/.473 line since the defending World Series champs last saw him. Trevor Story, who was hitting just .180 with a sub-.700 OPS when he went down with an injury during Game 2 of that series against the Cubs, is hitting .300/.375/.500 in 56 plate appearances since returning from the disabled list. And Gerardo Parra, who just went on the 10-day DL himself, posted a .396/.424/.642 line from May 11 through his injury on Tuesday.

Those performances, combined with the likes of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Mark Reynolds mostly holding steady after their hot starts, have propelled the Rockies to the best record in the NL. And, of course, it’s hard to forget Greg Holland, whose tremendous performance at the end of games—21-for-21 in save opportunities; 1.25 ERA with 30 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 23 innings—has helped the Rockies go 9-2 in one-run games.

The end result is a season that up until this point, at least, hasn’t ever been seen in Denver. The Rockies are off to their best start in franchise history. Now it’s about keeping it rolling, which they should be able to do with currently injured reinforcements such as Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, and Adam Ottavino not far off from returning to action.

It’s a good time to be a Rockies fan. Cubs fans can relate.

Fun fact

Fact, but perhaps not so much fun: since the beginning of 2016 the Cubs have not fared well against the Rockies, going 3-6 and losing all three series played between the two teams.

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Jon Lester, LHP (3-3, 3.91 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 3.66 FIP) vs. Tyler Chatwood, RHP (5-7, 4.60 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 4.69 FIP)

Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (4-3, 4.09 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 4.66 FIP) vs. German Marquez, RHP (4-3, 4.53 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, 3.89 FIP)

Saturday: Eddie Butler, RHP (3-1, 3.75 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, 3.85 FIP) vs. Jeff Hoffman, RHP (3-0, 2.61 ERA, 0.726 WHIP, 2.72 FIP)

Sunday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (6-4, 4.46 ERA, 1.296 WHIP, 3.93 FIP) vs. Antonio Senzatela, RHP (8-2, 3.56 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, 4.37 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 7:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago Plus

Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Denver markets)

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

This series will be a tough one, I think. The Rockies do appear to be for real and they have actually played better on the road (21-10) than at home (16-13). I’m going to call for a split, and if the Cubs can somehow win this series it will be a very good sign going forward.

Up next

The Cubs head to New York to take on the Mets in a three-game series beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Mets?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    3
    (53 votes)
  • 46%
    2
    (95 votes)
  • 16%
    1
    (34 votes)
  • 11%
    0
    (23 votes)
205 votes total Vote Now