The Rockies are feeling good, sitting at 4-1 and having just taken two games from the Rangers in Arlington. Now, they head back to Denver to host the Chicago Cubs for a four-game series. Once the face of the World Series Champion Cubs, Kris Bryant — now the new face of the Rockies — leads the team into battle with his former employers when they visit Denver for a four-game set.
Last season, the two teams split the season series at three wins apiece. Now, though, Bryant looms as the X-factor in what should be an exciting series between two clubs trying to forge a new identity after the departure of former stars.
For more details, here’s some information from Al Yellon, the managing editor of Bleed Cubbie Blue:
These are not your father’s Chicago Cubs, or your older brother’s, or heck, even yours if you were around last year.
The Cubs had a massive selloff at the trading deadline in 2021, trading away beloved World Series stars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez, among others.
They had a rough last two months last year, but did get a good performance out of Frank Schwindel, who hit .342/.389/.613 over the last two months. That was good for 33 extra-base hits, 1.7 bWAR, a 165 OPS+, and NL Rookie of the Month awards in August and September. Also, Patrick Wisdom set a Cubs rookie record with 28 home runs (eclipsing Bryant, who set that mark with 26 in 2015).
It’s sort of a transition year for the Cubs while they wait for all the prospects they got in those deadline deals to pan out, but they did make two splashy free agent signings, one before the lockout, one after. Marcus Stroman, one of the better starters on the FA market, signed a three-year contract (with an opt-out after year two), and the Cubs also inked Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a five-year deal, betting that the 27-year-old will still be producing when the Cubs are ready to contend again. Both have begun the season well. Stroman threw five strong innings against Milwaukee on Sunday and Suzuki has hit three home runs already, including a two-homer game Tuesday against the Pirates.
Taking two of three from the Brewers on Opening Weekend was unexpected and the team is doing many things well, especially working counts and taking walks, and Suzuki has done something only one other Cub has done since 1901:
Random tidbit: Seiya Suzuki has now reached safely at least twice and either scored a run or recorded a RBI in each of his first 5 games with #Cubs.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) April 13, 2022
Last player to do this in first five games as a Cub was Mark Grudzielanek in 2003. They are only two Cubs to do it since 1901.
So there’s cause for some optimism on the North Side of Chicago heading into this four-game set, where you’ll see Stroman start on Friday.
Thursday: Justin Steele (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland (0-1, 12.27 ERA)
Friday: Marcus Stroman (0-0, 1.80 ERA) vs Germán Márquez (0-0, 1.29)
Saturday: TBD vs Antonio Senzatela (0-0, 2.70 ERA)
Sunday: Drew Smyly (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Austin Gomber (0-0, 5.79 ERA)
Times, TV, Radio
Thursday: 6:40 MDT, ATT SportsNet-RM, 850 KOA/KNRV 1150 (español)
Friday: 6:40 MDT, ATT SportsNet-RM, 850 KOA/KNRV 1150 (español)
Saturday: 6:10 MDT, ATT SportsNet-RM/MLBN (out-of-market only), 850 KOA/KNRV 1150 (español)
Sunday: 1:10 MDT, ATT SportsNet-RM, 850 KOA/KNRV 1150 (español)
The Rockies pitching staff will need to stifle the hot bats of Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki, who are both off to blistering starts to the season. If they can do that, it’ll be a far easier task to keep Chicago off the scoreboard. Colorado’s bullpen has looked great thus far — we’ll see if they can keep it up against a Cubs lineup that’s in the bottom half of the league by batting average.
I like a 3-1 series victory for Colorado in this matchup.
After the Chicago series, the Rockies will stay in town to host the free-swingin’ Phillies for a three-game series starting Monday.