RECORDS: Rockies 31-27 Cubs 32-26
GAMETIMES: Tuesday and Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 1:20
TV: NBCSN Tuesday and Thursday, WGN Wednesday
THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE DEAD: Purple Row
Geman Marquez vs. Yu Darvish
PROBABLE ROCKIES LINEUP
Raimel Tapia – LF
Trevor Story – SS
David Dahl – RF
Nolan Arenado – 3B
Daniel Murphy – 1B
Ryan McMahon – 2B
Ian Desmond – CF
Tony Wolters – C
PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP
Kyle Schwarber – LF
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Javier Baez – SS
Carlos Gonzalez – RF
Victor Caratini – C
Jason Heyward – CF
Addison Russell – 2B
And so the return. The last time the Purple were in Wrigley, the Cubs were watching a second team in as many nights celebrate on their field, having managed two runs over some 22 innings. It was quite the piece of performance art. The Rockies come in this time around the hottest team in baseball, having won nine of their last 10 and eight in a row. While you first think of them having got off to a horrendous start and languishing somewhere in the desert of the pointless, they’re only one game worse off than the Cubs. They’re just in the wrong division. But if we’re doing wild card chases already, and I guess we are, they’re right in the thick of it.
The schedule certainly did the Rockies a favor over this last stretch. One they were at home, and two they were playing some of the more punchable teams around. Lineup the Orioles, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays in front of anyone able to remain upright for a good hour and you’re probably going to get that team some wins. But hey, can only play who is in front of you and all that.
As you might imagine, the offense got pretty healthy over that stretch, piling up 22 runs in three games against the Jays, 26 over four against Arizona, and 22 against the Os over three. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Storey are particularly hot, with the former batting near .500 over the past two weeks and the latter the latest player of the week in the NL. Coming in behind them is David Dahl, subbing for the injured Chuck Nasty, at .420 the past 14 days. Basically everyone with a bat is feeling pretty good about themselves, though overall catcher, first, and second have been dark spots for them. And Dahl should be playing every day somewhere, but the need to cram Ian Desmond into the lineup due to his paycheck and Blackmon’s inability to cover center anymore is another complication.
The Cubs will sadly see the two best starters the Rockies have in Gray and Marquez. They won’t get to see Freeland this time around, who’s been a grade-school chemistry experiment all season. Gray has had some home run problems, but then so does every Rockies pitcher (except for Marquez it seems). Starting it all off will be some dude named Jeff Hoffman, who has an ERA over 7.00 but can’t get a slice of luck or anyone to catch anything for him anywhere.
Much like last year, the Rockies’ pen has been the real key for them, even though they strike out less than anyone. They rank fourth and fifth in the NL in ERA and FIP (somehow right behind the Cubs if you can believe it). Wade Davis isn’t around at the moment, but Bryan Shaw, Scott Oberg, and Chad Bettis are holding down the fort just fine.
For the Cubs, they’ll welcome back Pedro Strop, who might be carried in like a Roman emperor given the state of everything right now. They got a healthy turn through the rotation and are back to Hendricks who kicked it off in Houston last Wednesday, and that’s really the key for the Cubs. When they get good starts, they’re good, and everything else settles in behind it. This is not the easiest stretch by any means, as a home date with the Cards is sandwiched with all the Rockies games of the season, and that’s followed by four in Chavez Ravine to play those aliens. Better kick it up a gear now or it could be a problem.