Series Preview: Cubs at Rockies, April 14 - April 17, 2022

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Series Preview: Cubs at Rockies, April 14 – April 17, 2022

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are headed out West to visit Kris Bryant and the Rockies for four straight games at Coors Field. The Cubs will face two lefties and two righties in this one, so you should see just about every position player on the active roster grab a start before the weekend is through. Ditto the pitching staff, because #Coors.

Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, and Drew Smyly will start games one, two, and four, but we’re still TBA on the Game 3 starter. That one could wind up as a true bullpen effort, or maybe the Cubs will try to game Keegan Thompson’s suspension, by giving him the ball and then having him “serve” his suspension in the three games that follow (as he rests).

There’s no break for the Cubs following this series. On Monday, they’ll head back home to Chicago for three straight against the Rays and four games against the Pirates. In other words, there’s plenty of baseball on tap. So strap in, and GO CUBS.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (3-2) got off to a nice start against the Brewers in Chicago, but they weren’t able to complete the short sweep against the Pirates with Kyle Hendricks on the mound, thus the 3-2 record. Let’s see if they can keep their head above water with four straight in Colorado.

The Colorado Rockies (4-1) opened up their season with a series win over the Dodgers, before sweeping the Rangers in Texas. Fluky or not, that’s an impressive start to the season. Hopefully, the Cubs can help bring them back down to Earth.

What to Watch

Willson Contreras has been hitting the ball as hard as anyone in baseball so far this season. Like, literally: He is one of just two qualified hitters with an AVERAGE exit velocity over 100 MPH this season. The other is Joey Gallo, and he’s the only guy with a higher hard% than Contreras. As of Thursday morning, Contreras is slashing .308/.471/.615 (214 wRC+). Would love to see him do some damage against the two lefties in Colorado.

Ian Happ finally had a bad offensive game this season, striking out three times during the finale in Pittsburgh (his first 3 Ks of the year), while walking once. He has still been on base in every single game and is a top-10 hitter in MLB by wRC+ here in the early going.

You might be surprised to learn that Nick Madrigal is actually make a lot of hard contact this season, relatively speaking (his 53.8 hard% top-40 in MLB), but that comes with a very familiar problem for Cubs fans: -4.5 launch angle resulting in a 61.5% groundball rate. In other words, this is the Jason Heyward problem. Heyward has, at times, made a ton of “hard contact” but when you’re smacking the ball into the ground you lose so much of that expected value. It’s early – both in the season and Madrigal’s career – but he really needs to start elevating. And there’s no better place to do it than Coors Field.

Kris Bryant has gotten off to a nice start, slashing .350/.391/.500 (139 wRC+). He hasn’t yet hit a homer, and he’s got just 2 RBI.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Thursday, April 14th at 7:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Friday, April 15th at 7:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, April 16th at 7:10 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, April 17th at 2:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Justin Steele (L) vs. Kyle Freeland (L)
Game 2: Marcus Stroman (R) vs. German Márquez (R)
Game 3: TBD vs. Antonio Senzatela (R)
Game 4: Drew Smyly (L) vs. Austin Gomber (L)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Frank Schwindel
•   2B – Nick Madrigal
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Nico Hoerner
•   LF – Ian Happ
•   CF – Jason Heyward
•   RF – Seiya Suzuki
•   DH – Rafael Ortega/Clint Frazier

Unavailable: Wade Miley, Andrelton Simmons, Alec Mills, David Bote, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer

Colorado Rockies

•   C – Elias Díaz
•   1B – C.J. Cron
•   2B – Brendan Rodgers
•   3B – Ryan McMahon
•   SS – José Iglesias
•   LF – Kris Bryant
•   CF – Randal Grichuk
•   RF – Charlie Blackmon
•   DH – Connor Joe

Unavailable: Robert Stephenson, Lucas Gillbreath, Peter Lambert, Scott Oberg, Ryan Rolison

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: +6
Rockies: +9

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.40
Rockies: 5.00

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 3.20
Rockies: 3.20

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami