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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Rockies series preview

Coors Field is a tough place to play for visiting teams.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Well, hello old friend Kris Bryant!

KB has already played against the Cubs, a welcome back to Wrigley Field last September when he was with the Giants. This will be the first meetup with him as a Rockie, and then the Cubs won’t see him again for five months (September 16-17-18 at Wrigley Field).

For more on the Rockies, here’s Samantha Bradfield, managing editor of our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row.

The Rockies’ season looked bleak heading into 2022. They lost both Trevor Story and Jon Gray to free agency just a year after trading away Nolan Arenado, but a couple of key moves during the offseason — namely the signings of Kris Bryant and José Iglesias and the trade for Randal Grichuk — seem to be paying off so far.

The Rox are off to a surprisingly hot start, going 4-1 through their first five games for just the ninth time in franchise history. They’re 2-1 at home against the Dodgers, and then went 2-0 on the road against the Rangers. In 2021, they went 48-33 at home and 26-54 on the road.

So far, Bryant has been performing really well in purple. He is 7-for-20 (.350) with four runs, three doubles, two RBI, two walks and four strikeouts. He has hit safely in each of his first five regular season games and leads the team in hits, and is third behind SS José Iglesias and C Elias Díaz in average. He has yet to hit a home run, though...

Utilityman Connor Joe is another Rockie to keep an eye on. Besides his great hair, Joe was the first Rockie to hit a home run this year (he now has two) and is slashing .316/.458/.684 on the year. He also has the distinction of being the first universal DH for the Rox, and has also spent time at first base and in left field.

Pitching-wise, the rotation has been a bit uneven to start the year. Kyle Freeland got roughed up a little bit on Opening Day, but 2021 All-Star Germán Márquez was absolutely stellar on Saturday. Antonio Senzatela had a short outing on Sunday where he yielded four runs (only one earned), and then Austin Gomber got roughed up a little bit for three runs (all earned), two walks and four strikeouts against Texas on Monday. Hopefully all of this is just some early season bumps after a shortened off-season, but the offense seems to be performing better so we’ll see how this all shakes out!

Fun fact

The Cubs have not won a season series from the Rockies since 2015. They lost the season series in 2016 and 2016, and the teams split six games in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (they didn’t face each other in 2020). The Cubs are 8-10 at Coors Field since 2015.

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Justin Steele, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 1.71 FIP) vs. Kyle Freeland, LHP (0-1, 12.27 ERA, 1.909 WHIP, 2.29 FIP)

Friday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 6.31 FIP) vs. German Marquez, RHP (0-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.429 WHIP, 3.54 FIP)

Saturday: TBD vs. Antonio Senzatela, RHP (0-0, 2.70 ERA, 3.000 WHIP, 4.01 FIP)

Sunday: Drew Smyly, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 2.65 FIP) vs. Austin Gomber, LHP (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 2.68 FIP)

Here’s what we know about Mr. TBD on Saturday (which admittedly isn’t much):

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 7:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Friday: 7:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Saturday: 7:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Rockies market territories)

Sunday: 2:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

As noted by Samantha Bradfield, the Rockies had a 48-33 home record in 2021. That was the third-best home record in the National League last year. Only the 100+ win Giants and Dodgers were better in their home parks. Meanwhile, their 26-54 home record was fourth-worst in the NL. Only the 95+ loss Marlins, Diamondbacks and Pirates were worse.

I mean, there’s a known “Coors Field effect” but that’s ridiculous. The Rockies took two of three from the Dodgers at home to begin the 2022 season.

Having said all that, I think the Cubs can split this four-game series.

Up next

The Cubs return to Wrigley Field to host the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game series beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Rockies?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    4
    (16 votes)
  • 16%
    3
    (37 votes)
  • 48%
    2
    (110 votes)
  • 22%
    1
    (52 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (12 votes)
227 votes total Vote Now