Cubs Host Rockies for Weekend Set at Wrigley

Coming into the four game weekend set at Wrigley between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, one team has the second best record in the NL, the other is struggling to stay above .500.

Surprisingly, it is the Rockies that come in to this matchup as world-beaters, winners of four straight and a 38–23 record that is good for first place in the NL West.

Meanwhile, the Cubs come into the weekend tilt winners of five of six after a dismal West Coast road trip left them under .500. They enter the series 30–28 and a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Game 1- Jon Lester vs. Tyler Chatwood; Thursday 7:05 PM CST

In the opener of this series, the Cubs will send Ace Jon Lester to the bump. Lester is having a good but not great year so far by his standards. His 3.91 ERA is nothing special but his 3.66 FIP indicates he’s been a bit unlucky thus far in the season. Bringing his walk rate down would be a start (3.3 BB/ 9), his highest rate since 2011.

Opposing Lester will be righty Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood has battled through the tough Coors conditions to a respectable 4.60 ERA thus far in 2017, giving up an unsustainable 10 dingers already so far in his 12 starts. To give you an idea, his career high for a full season is 15 over 27 starts. He’ll need to clean that up given he’s facing a hot Cub team at Wrigley as the weather begins to heat up.

Game 2- Kyle Hendricks vs. German Marquez; Friday 1:20 PM CST

Kyle Hendricks will get the ball to start Friday’s tilt. The surgical righty has had an odd start to his 2017 campaign. He began the year giving up at least three earned runs in each of his first three starts, he rebounded over his next six starts where the most earned runs he gave up was two. However recently he has reverted back to early season form, giving up at least 4 ER in each of his last three outings. Finding consistency going forward will be key, especially Friday afternoon against a powerful Rockies lineup as Hendricks has already surrendered nine home runs thus far.

The Rockies will send German Marquez to the mound to face Hendricks. Marquez has had a similar year to his Friday counterpart. He has made 8 starts on the year, and has given up 19 of his 23 earned runs in just three of those starts. It seems to be very hit or miss for Marquez, as he gave up 6 ER and 2 HR in his last outing against the Padres.

Game 3- Eddie Butler vs. Jeff Hoffman; Saturday 1:20 PM CST

I would petition to just pencil in Butler/Montgomery for this one but Butler will technically get the start. The once highly touted righty has had a nice start to his Cub career following a May call-up. He has posted a 3.75 ERA in five starts, but he will need to lower his walk rate to maintain that. At 5.3 BB per 9 innings, he has relied on shutting opponents down with runners on base, which is hard to sustain. Butler threw 5.2 innings of one run ball against the Marlins his last time out to pick up the W.

Jeff Hoffman will only be making his fourth start of the year in the third game of this series, but he’s been very effective in limited duty this year. The young righty has posted an outstanding 2.61 ERA with an ye-popping .726 WHIP in his small sample size. His last outing was seven innings against the Padres giving up only a singular run.

Game 4- Jake Arrieta vs. Antonio Senzetela; Sunday 1:20 PM CST

Closing out this series for the Cubs will be their wild-card, Jake Arrieta. Jake is another Cub pitcher looking to bounce back from a rough start to the year. He has a 4.46 ERA going into his Sunday start, but hasn’t given up more than two runs in each of his last three starts while going at least six in all of those outings. His velocity appears to be down, and the hope is it just took him some time to adjust before he settled in this year. Four quality starts in a row would certainly indicate a trend in that direction.

The rookie righty for the Rockies, Antonio Senzetela, has been a pleasant surprise so far for the team. He is 8–2 with a 3.56 ERA, but his 4.37 FIP indicates those figures may be a bit smoke and mirrors at this point. He has given up nine home runs while only striking out 5.9/ 9 innings, meaning his defense behind him has to be stellar for him to be successful.

The Rockies took two of three from the Cubs in Coors in an impressive display in early May that validated their hot start. They will look to do so again against a Cub team that has been red-hot at Wrigley over the past two weeks.

Jason Schwartz is the Editor-in-Chief of BulletinBoard, a Chicago Bulls blog. Only his love for the Cubs would dare him to write elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter here.