Your Colorado Rockies (4-1) have returned home from Texas with a league-best .800 winning percentage. The momentum, albeit five games in, is colossal.
Colorado has a team ERA of 2.54 right now. They will be taking on a team with similar momentum, the Chicago Cubs (3-2), but a squad that dropped a series finale to Pittsburgh on Wednesday by a score of 6-2. The Cubs hold a team ERA of 3.27.
Chicago will roll out Justin Steele (0.00 ERA, 1.65 FIP) for his second start of 2022. He tossed five innings against the Brewers last Saturday, holding Milwaukee scoreless while allowing four hits, one walk and striking out five.
Steele opened the season with a primary mix of fastballs and sliders. His preferred weapon for strikeouts in 2021 was his four-seamer, and he will often work it up in the zone as it features higher-than-average spin. High fastballs can prove dangerous in the launching ground that is Coors Field, however, so we’ll have to see how Steele works that heater in a potent run-scoring environment.
Tonight will be his first career start in Denver. Steele did pitch against the Rockies at Wrigley Field last year, allowing four earned runs in 3 2⁄3 innings.
Kyle Freeland (12.27 ERA, 2.23 FIP) returns to the hill after an Opening Day start in the Rockies’ only loss so far. He was one out shy of four innings against the Dodgers in that appearance, allowing five earned runs on five hits. His curveball featured a slightly different movement profile just months after being his best pitch ever, and tonight will grow the sample size to see if it’s back to 2021 form.
Colorado’s bullpen is working with some extra rest after the Wednesday off day. Carlos Estévez and Daniel Bard pitched back-to-back days in Texas, so the deck will again be stacked for A-list relievers if the situation presents itself tonight. Rockies relievers currently hold a league-best 0.78 ERA. The collective xFIP suggests it might be short-lived (3.86), but the current momentum could be huge in building a divisional lead.
First Pitch: 6:40 p.m. MDT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (COL), Marquee Sports Network (CHC); MLB.TV
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM; KNRV 1150 (Spanish)