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colorado rockiesStick with me for some nuance, because I’m not quite saying what you think I might be saying:

This series is enormously important for 2015 draft pick purposes. I don’t say that lightly, given that it’s still July and it’s just four games. But the Rockies, already near the bottom of the pack in terms of record, are extremely likely to be among the worst teams come the end of the season – and as we’ve seen time and again at the end of the year, a four-game swing (especially head-to-head against another crummy team) can be the difference between picking third or fourth or fifth or sixth. Thanks to the Astros, the teams that don’t finish with the worst record will already be bumped back an extra pick, so the difference between finishing with the third/fourth/fifth/sixth record in baseball is even more pronounced.

What I am not saying, however, is that I am affirmatively rooting for the Cubs to lose this week. I’m not even saying it would be better for them if they did (because it’s good for the future and development if certain young guys play well, and when certain young guys play well, the Cubs might win). I’m simply saying this is a very important series for draft pick position. It’ll go a long way to sorting out how these two particular teams wind up, when all is said and done.

And, get this: the Cubs and Rockies play three more times next week.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs have won just twice since the All-Star break, and currently sport a .408 winning percentage, worst in the National League. A half-game better than …

The Rockies, who are last in the NL West, and have won just three times since the All-Star break.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, July 28 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Tuesday, July 29 at 7:05 CT on WGN.
  • Wednesday, July 30 at 7:05 CT on CSN+.
  • Thursday, July 31 at 1:20 CT on CSN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Tsuyoshi Wada (5.00 ERA, 3.25 FIP; 1.40 K/BB), Edwin Jackson (5.76 ERA, 4.28 FIP; 2.08 K/BB), Travis Wood (5.06 ERA, 4.39 FIP; 1.83 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (2.18 ERA, 2.10 FIP; 3.81 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B (sometimes CF)
  2. Arismendy Alcantara, CF (sometimes 2B)
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Starlin Castro, SS
  5. Chris Coghlan, LF
  6. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  7. Ryan Sweeney/Nate Schierholtz, RF
  8. Welington Castillo, C
  9. Pitcher

Rockies

Starters: Yohan Flande (7.20 ERA, 3.98 FIP; 1.17 K/BB), Jorge De La Rosa (4.19 ERA, 4.32 FIP; 1.87 K/BB), Brett Anderson (3.24 ERA, 3.61 FIP; 1.38 K/BB), Tyler Matzek (4.28 ERA, 3.56 FIP; 2.06 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, RF
  2. Josh Rutledge, SS
  3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  4. Drew Stubbs, CF
  5. Wilin Rosario, C
  6. Corey Dickerson, LF
  7. Ben Paulsen, 1B
  8. D.J. LeMahieu, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

The Cubs are facing four straight lefty starters in this one. That’s going to do some wonky things to the lineup (maybe even push Emilio Bonifacio to third base for a start or two), and hopefully Justin Ruggiano is over his groin issue so that he can start a few of these games.

Tsuyoshi Wada gets another opportunity to show that he should stick in the rotation post-deadline. The recent struggles at AAA of Dan Straily and Dallas Beeler are probably helping.

The next reliever in need of a break? Probably Brian Schlitter, who’s posted a 16.62 ERA, 6.60 FIP, and 7.47 xFIP since July 8.

Seems like Luis Valbuena is hitting the ball hard a lot again.

No Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki (or Tulowizki) in this series, as each is on the DL – something they’ve done together many times over the years.

The former has allowed Corey Dickerson to get regular starts, and he’s killing it: .325/.390/.583.

Added intrigue for this series? The final game of this series will be taking place as the Trade Deadline expires. Heavy, heavy #HugWatch in effect for Thursday’s series finale. I will also be in the finale throes of the Blogathon, and my have lost my mind by then. Covering a game and the deadline at the same time in hours 34/35/36/37 of being awake? Nice.

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