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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Rockies series preview

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Maybe the Cubs can win one or two against a team that has the worst record in MLB away from its home park.

Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Cubs, as you know, just faced the Rockies in Denver a couple weeks ago. They won one of the three games, which is pretty good — Colorado is 43-22 at home. That’s the most home wins of anyone in MLB. The counterpoint to that, of course, is their 14-45 road record, worst in baseball.

Evan Lang, a staff writer at our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row, sent me this detailed description of the 2021 Rockies season:

The Rockies are one of the strangest clubs in the league right now. They may be downright abysmal on the road with a 14-45 record, but they look like a playoff team in the safe confines of Coors Field. With a record of 43-22 in the Mile High City, The Rockies are one of the best home teams in baseball. They’ve swept the high-spending and hyper-competitive San Diego Padres twice in Denver, and won the overall season series.

Stranger still, the strength of the home Rockies is their pitching rotation. With the exception of local star Kyle Freeland (who missed time with an injury and has the fewest starts of the rotation), every single Rockies starter has a better ERA at home compared to on the road. Starter Jon Gray explained that for him, he notices how much more his pitches move on the road. At altitude, pitches break less and are more predictable, giving him more control.

The pitchers the Rockies are expected to start against the Cubs all have this intense home/road split. Groundout specialist Antonio Senzatela has an ERA of 3.89 in 12 starts at Coors Field, which balloons to 5.80 in eight road starts. Staff Ace Germán Márquez has a home ERA of 3.13 in 15 home starts, and a road ERA of 4.81 in 10. Perhaps the most severe split belongs to lefty Austin Gomber, whom the Rockies acquired as the key piece of the Nolan Arenado trade. Gomber has a staggering 2.09 iin his first nine starts at Coors Field since his acquisition. On the road, his ERA jumps up to a whopping 5.80 in 12 starts.

Offensively, the Rockies have a few players making their case for their future with the organization. Infielder Brendan Rodgers was the Rockies’ top prospect for years, but constant injuries plagued his development at the major league level. After bouncing back from a preseason hamstring injury, Rodgers is here to prove he’s here to stay as an everyday starter at second base or shortstop. On the season he’s hitting .288/.346/.467 and has finally found the power the organization knew he was capable of with 12 doubles, two triples, and nine home runs. Rodgers also had a 16-game hitting streak from July 21st through August 14th, a career high for him and the second longest streak for the Rockies so far this season (Raimel Tapia with 18).

The two other hopeful future Rockies came to the club on minor league deals this offseason. Slugging DH/1B CJ Cron signed with the Rockies with the hope of earning an everyday starting first baseman job, and earned it he has. Cron has been hitting the ball with authority in patient and disciplined bats, leading the team in home runs with 21, RBIs with 71, and wRC+ with 125. In the month of August he’s been absolutely walloping the ball with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. His excellent offensive performance has Rockies fans wondering if we should offer him a contract to stay in the “Cron Zone”until a prospect like Michael Toglia is ready for the big leagues. The Rockies also signed former high draft pick Connor Joe. The 29-year-old cancer survivor was originally a first baseman, but the Rockies are having him play and start frequently in left field. Joe is incredibly popular with both fans and teammates, eliciting chants of “JOE! JOE! JOE!” at Coors Field. Joe has a keen eye and controls the batter’s box well with 17 walks to 32 strikeouts. He’s also hit seven home runs since returning to the big league club on July 20th, including his very first that same day.

On the front office side, the situation is still tense with the Rockies and superstar shortstop Trevor Story. Acting general manager Bill Schmidt is attempting to keep Story in purple after the end of the season despite Story’s frustration with the executive. After not being traded and poor communication from the higher-ups left him feeling confused and not having “great things to say about the situation,” Story removed himself from the lineup on the day of the deadline. He’s played every game since and is clearly trying to make the best of his situation by playing strong and having fun with his teammates, but his future remains unclear. Story, having a down year, will be entering a hotly contested free agent market for shortstops. Sources say that the front office is trying to convince him that “the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere; that they know him best and care for him most.”

It’s been a weird season for the Rockies and their fans, but at the very least it’s been interesting. The Rockies have both underperformed and overperformed, and everyone is left wondering what will happen in 2022. In the meantime, however, the Rockies can continue to baffle and entertain in the waning weeks of the season.

Fun fact

It has been 809 days since these two teams last played at Wrigley Field. On that day, June 6, 2019, the Rockies beat the Cubs 3-1. Of the 12 Cubs who played in that game, just two (David Bote and Jason Heyward) are still on the Cubs’ active roster, and of the 11 Rockies who appeared in that 2019 game, also just two (Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers) are still on the Colorado active roster.

Probable pitching matchups

Monday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (14-5, 4.04 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 4.77 FIP) vs. Antonio Senzatela, RHP (2-9, 4.58 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 3.72 FIP)

Tuesday: Justin Steele, LHP (2-2, 3.22 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 5.41 FIP) vs. German Marquez, RHP (11-9, 3.80 ERA, 1.170 WHIP, 3.57 FIP)

Wednesday: Zach Davies, RHP (6-10, 5.04 ERA, 1.508 WHIP, 5.32 FIP) vs. Austin Gomber, LHP (9-7, 4.15 ERA, 1.176 WHIP, 4.11 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

As noted above, the Rockies are 14-45 on the road this year and have been outscored away from Coors Field 293-179. They just finished a 5-1 homestand... which followed a 1-5 road trip. Even in their current state the Cubs should be able to win two of three.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off, then head to the South Side of Chicago to take on the White Sox in a three-game series beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Rockies?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    3
    (12 votes)
  • 15%
    2
    (22 votes)
  • 51%
    1
    (74 votes)
  • 25%
    0
    (37 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now