Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (6-6) at Colorado Rockies (10-2)

Team Overview

The Cubs head to the thin air of Colorado to face the team with the best record in baseball. Here are their numbers so far on the season (NL rank in parens)

Rockies Cubs
wOBA .337 (4) .333 (5)
SP FIP 4.52 (14) 4.35 (11)
RP FIP 2.77 (3) 3.42 (7)
DRS 12 (1) -11 (13)

I started writing this yesterday, so those Rockies offensive numbers have probably moved up a tick.

Batters

Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA   Player wOBA ZiPS wOBA
CF Dexter Fowler .295 .341               SS Starlin Castro .407 .328
RF Seth Smith .428 .366 2B Darwin Barney .352 .293
LF Carlos Gonzalez .287 .378 CF Marlon Byrd .362 .340
SS Troy Tulowitski .489 .387 3B Aramis Ramirez .383 .348
1B Todd Helton .354 .340 1B Carlos Pena .278 .372
2B Jose Lopez .274 .329 LF Alfonso Soriano .346 .342
3B Ian Stewart .038 .340 C Geovany Soto .292 .353
C Chris Iannetta .390 .358 RF Tyler Colvin .261 .315

Tulo has obviously been hitting out of his mind, and hit two HRs yesterday. Smith has Jeff Baker-sized platoon splits but is left-handed, where it’s much nicer to see that manifest itself. Expect to see a lot of him in this series. Stewart has been battling some sort of stomach bug since the start of the season, which has affected him at the plate. Helton has been having back issues, and was only able to appear as a pinch hitter in a few games last week.

Pitchers

Player FIP ZiPS FIP          Player FIP ZiPS FIP
LHP Jorge de la Rosa 4.15 3.87 RHP Ryan Dempster 4.54 3.78
RHP Jhoulys Chacin 3.17 4.04 RHP Carlos Zambrano 5.35 3.83
RHP Jason Hammel 5.91 3.70 RHP Matt Garza 0.64 4.03
RHP Esmil Rogers 2.86 4.11 RHP Casey Coleman 8.09 4.97
RHP Greg Reynolds 5.59 5.18 LHP James Russell 0.91 5.45
RHP Huston Street 1.79 2.97 RHP Carlos Marmol 2.30 2.76
RHP Rafael Betancourt 6.09 3.48 RHP Kerry Wood 5.26 3.56

The Rockies are missing top pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez due to a cut on his thumb. He’ll be back for their next series.

Matchups

ERA, FIP, xFIP, and ZiPS FIP listed for each pitcher.

Friday: Matt Garza, RHP (5.68, 0.64, 1.30, 4.03) vs Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (2.77, 3.17, 3.62, 4.04), 6:40 PM CT

Garza has a ridiculous .541 BABIP on the season, hence the large split in ERA and FIP. With a flyball pitcher like Garza, you have to worry about the home run ball in this game. Chacin is the kind of pitcher who can succeed at Coors. He gets strikeouts and has a decent ground ball rate. Even more importantly, he’s managed to suppress HRs.

Saturday: Casey Coleman, RHP (7.20, 8.09, 5.27, 4.97) vs Jason Hammel, RHP (4.91, 5.91, 4.52, 3.70), 6:10 PM CT

Coleman was hammered by the Brewers in his first start. Lucky for him, he gets to face another good offense in an extreme hitter’s park for his second start. Hammel was basically a replacement level pitcher with the Rays until he was traded to Colorado in 2009. Somehow he managed to shave a point and a half off his FIP while moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park. Go figure. The biggest difference-maker was the plunge in his walk rate, which went from around 4 per 9 to the low 2s.

Sunday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (6.30, 4.54, 3.25, 3.78) vs Alan Johnson, RHP (NO PROJECTION), 1:10 PM CT

Meet the Rockies version of James Russell. He’s posted 5+ ERA in his last three seasons as a starter in AAA. Not only are the Rockies hamstrung by Ubaldo’s injury, but Thursday’s double header fouled up their rotation schedule. Of course, this just means that he’ll pitch 7 innings of one run ball, strike out 7, and walk no one. Dempster’s strikeout and walk rates looks slightly improved from previous years, but he’s had trouble with HRs, especially as he runs out of gas. He’s still the Cubs best starter, so expect to see some regression.

Prediction

The Cubs stave off a sweep by winning the last game of the series. Assuming the bullpen doesn’t blow the lead the Cubs build against Johnson.


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