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Know your enemy: Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies were surprisingly good last year. They could improve on that.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, spring home of the Rockies
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Even though the Cubs have been a 90-win team for the last three seasons and the Rockies just squeaked in as the second wild card last year, the Rox have given the Cubs fits over that period. The Cubs are just 8-11 against the Rockies since 2015, and they lost three of four to them at Wrigley Field last year.

And the Rockies are returning most of the powerful lineup that led the National League in runs last year. The 824 runs was two more than the Cubs scored.

Charlie Blackmon, who hit .331/.399/.601 and led the league in runs, hits, triples, batting average and total bases and still managed no better than fifth place in MVP voting, leads the way. He’ll be a free agent after this season and will be in high demand.

The only major changes for the Rockies will be the move of Ian Desmond to the outfield to make room for highly-touted rookie Ryan McMahon at first base. McMahon hit .355/.403/.583 with 20 home runs in 119 games split between Double-A and Triple-A last year, so he should fit right in with this bunch.

Chris Iannetta, who played for the Rockies from 2006-11, returns as their starting catcher.

Colorado’s rotation is also much the same as last year’s, minus Tyler Chatwood, now a Cub. Another Cub connection will be in the Rockies’ bullpen, as Wade Davis signed a three-year deal with a fourth-year mutual option. Davis did a good job in his one year in Chicago and, apart from any games he pitches against the Cubs, I wish him well.

The Rockies will lead the National League in runs again. I can say that with reasonable certainty because they do this almost every year — they have led the league in runs each of the last four seasons. It’s really up to the pitching to determine how well the Rockies do this season; it was good enough to give them the second wild card in 2017 and could well be good enough for that again.

The schedule-makers must have something in for the Cubs. The last time the Cubs played in Denver later than May 10 was 2014. That’s the case again this year, as the Cubs’ annual visit to Coors Field will be April 20-21-22. Check the forecast for snow. The Rockies will be at Wrigley a bit more than a week later (April 30, May 1-2), and unless the teams somehow meet in the postseason, that’ll be it until 2019.