As was the case with the Diamondbacks, it has been quite some time since the Rockies and Cubs last played — 358 days since the Cubs lost 4-3 on September 18, 2022.
It’s been quite a bit longer since the Cubs visited Coors Field. The Cubs’ last game there was 517 days ago, April 17, 2022, a 6-4 win over the Rockies. Of the 18 Cubs who played in that game, 11 are no longer in the Cubs organization — and of the 14 Rockies who appeared that afternoon, seven are no longer in their organization, and another (Kris Bryant) won’t appear in this series.
For more on the Rockies, here’s Sam Bradfield, managing editor of our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row.
The Rockies have had a troubling season, and that’s putting it lightly.
Every single pitcher from their Opening Day rotation has either been released or spent time on the IL. They lost two starters to Tommy John surgery – Germán Márquez in May, and Antonio Senzatela in July, two starts after his return from a torn ACL suffered in 2022. Kyle Freeland suffered a dislocated right (non-throwing) shoulder in his start before the All-Star Break and was placed on the 15-day IL, and Austin Gomber was just put on the 60-day with lower back inflammation. The fifth Opening Day starter – José Ureña – was DFA’d and released at the end of April.
And to make matters worse, their two “next-up” guys also suffered injuries. Noah Davis experienced right elbow inflammation at the end of April, but has avoided Tommy John so far and has been playing in the minors. Ryan Feltner took a line drive off the face at the end of May, which resulted in a concussion, skull fracture and ruptured eardrum. Thankfully, he was finally cleared for a rehab assignment at the end of August and is making his way back.
In total, the Rockies have used 32 pitchers in 2023.
Kris Bryant has found himself on the Injured List again for the majority of 2023. Currently, he is dealing with a fractured left index finger suffered in July. In total, he has played 65 games in 2023 and is slashing .251/.338/.379 with eight homers, seven doubles, 23 RBI, 26 walks and 48 strikeouts. In his first two seasons in purple, he has played a total of 107 games and been placed on the IL five separate times.
That said, though, they do have rookies who are finally getting some playing time and making the most of it. Three in particular have been exciting to watch: shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and outfielders Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle.
After debuting last September, Tovar has taken the Rockies by storm. At 21 years and 240 days old, he became the youngest Rockie in history to start on Opening Day. He ranks among franchise leaders such as Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki in numerous categories. Tovar should be a Gold Glove finalist and perhaps a Rookie of the Year finalist.
Jones was traded to the Rockies in the offseason from the Cleveland Guardians and has been an unexpected breakout star. He became the first rookie in franchise history (later joined by Tovar) to record 10+ home runs and 10+ stolen bases in a season. Jones’ 13 outfield assists are the second-most in the majors and tied with Larry Walker (1995 & 2002) for seventh-most in a season in franchise history.
Finally, Doyle is the best defensive center fielder the Rockies have had in a while, maybe ever. He and Jones own three of the top-five fastest outfield assists in the majors this season, and Doyle owns five of the top ten by himself. The pair rank first and sixth among all major leaguers in average arm strength, and Doyle’s arm strength leads all center fielders. Doyle’s 14 DRS are tied for the most among MLB center fielders (min. 600 innings) and his 12 OAA are tied for the most among all center fielders and lead the NL by three. Offensively, Doyle has power, but his defense is absolutely Gold Glove-worthy.
These three rookies are the ones to watch in 2024, as well as 23-year-old utilityman Hunter Goodman, who has hit safely in nine of his first 12 career games with six extra-base hits and 12 RBI.
With all that said, it has been a rough year for the Rockies. They are trudging along towards their (likely) first 100-loss season in franchise history. But all the chaos and injuries have forced them to look within and see what kinds of young players they have.
The Rox have a lot to think about in the offseason, but there are at least some bright spots to look forward to in 2024.
The Cubs have swept a three-game series at Coors Field only once: August 3-5, 2004, when they won by 5-3, 11-8 and 5-1.
They took three in a row on July 18-20, 1994, when the Rockies played at Mile High Stadium, then won two games at Coors on May 13-14, 1998.
Since the sweep in 2004, the Cubs have won just three of 17 series at Coors, winning two of three in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
They split a pair of four-game series and a two-game set. They lost 11 series: eight by 2-1, one by 3-1 and three by 3-0. The last in which the Cubs did not win a game was Sept. 25-27, 2012.
From 1993, the Rockies’ first season, through the sweep in 2004, the Cubs were 32-26 at Denver. Since then, they are 20-33, for a record to date of 52-59. They are 57-49 vs. the Rockies at home, giving the Cubs a lead in the overall series, 109-108.
(Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)
Probable pitching matchups
Monday: Jordan Wicks, RHP (3-0, 2.16 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 3.20 FIP) vs. Kyle Freeland, LHP (6-14, 5.09 ERA, 1.473 WHIP, 5.36 FIP)
Tuesday: Javier Assad, RHP (3-3, 2.83 ERA, 1.202 WHIP, 4.46 FIP) vs. Chris Flexen, RHP (1-7, 7.36 ERA, 1.736 WHIP, 6.78 FIP overall, 1-3. 6.98 ERA, 1.603 WHIP, 6.93 FIP in eight starts with Rockies)
Wednesday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (7-9, 5.27 ERA, 1.298 WHIP, 4.65 FIP) vs. Ty Blach, LHP (2-1, 4.58 ERA, 1.508 WHIP, 5.28 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Monday: 7:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Tuesday: 7:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Wednesday: 2:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Yikes, those Rockies starters ERAs are frightening.
Still, as noted above by JohnW53, Coors Field has generally been a house of horrors for Cubs teams in many recent years.
Nevertheless, the Cubs are a good team and the Rockies are not, and I think that should be good enough for the Cubs to take two of three.
The Cubs have Thursday off, then take on the Diamondbacks in a three-game series at Chase Field in Phoenix beginning Friday evening.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Rockies?
This poll is closed