Series Preview: Colorado Rockies (50-73) at Chicago Cubs (47-76)

The Cubs have made a strong push for the second spot in next year's draft with a 4-17 record in the month of August. The Rockies are remembering their 2007 team by going 13-9 over that same span, and are coming off a four game sweep of the Mets on the road. You Never Know. The Rockies are one of only five NL teams that have failed to sweep the Cubs this year. The Braves and Nationals still have a chance to add themselves to the list, but the Cubs will have to wait till next year to get this achievement in a single season.

Team Overviews

  Rockies Cubs
wRC+ 96 (6th) 77 (16th)
BSR 6.7 (3rd) -1.9 (9th)
UZR -37.1 (16th) 18.4 (2nd)
DRS -70 (16th) 14 (4th)
SP FIP- 120 (15th) 105 (11th)
RP FIP- 91 (4th) 112 (16th)

It's pretty clear where the Rockies problems lie this year. Rockies pitchers are doing poorly on DIPS, and when the ball is put into play the defense can't do anything with it. It's not just a park factor thing – the stats above all include park effects, and if you go to xFIP- instead of FIP- Rockies starters are the worst in the NL.

The Cubs bullpen maintains its narrow edge against the Cardinals and Astros as the worst pen in the majors, and if you look at xFIP the Cubs blow away all competitors in terribleness This is a year! It's also a bummer to see the Cubs previously excellent team baserunning numbers sliding below average for the year.

Position Players, injuries

It's been a while since the Cubs played the Rockies, and I couldn't name many players on their team other than their outfield of Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Tyler Colvin. The outfielders have been the biggest contributers by far, posting 70.1 of the team's 56.3 wRAA alone. I'm too lazy to remove the pitchers PAs from that total but some notable negative position player contributions have come from DJ LeMaiheu, who no one has been particularly missing, Marco Scutaro, Jonathan Herrera, and Ramon Hernandez. Defensively, the metrics suggest that Fowler and Gonzalez have been giving runs right back to the other team, while Colvin has been merely below average. To be fair, that's a pretty big outfield to patrol.

Fowler suffered a minor knee sprain on Wednesday and could miss a few games. The other notable Rockie that I somehow forgot was star SS Troy Tulowitski, who went down in late May with a groin injury and has had a slow road coming back. He starts a rehab assignment today and could be back in a week or so. Long-time Rockie Todd Helton had season ending hip surgery earlier this month and is donezo for the year. His would-be replacement, Jason Giambi, has been out since late July with some sort of virus. Starter Jorge De La Rosa had TJS last year but has had a rocky recovery, being shut down on a few occasions but MRIs have shown no structural damage. He probably won't pitch for the team this year. Jonathan Sanchez is on the DL with biceps tendinitis/sucking.

Probable Pitchers

Friday: Drew Pomeranz, LHP (4.87, 4.60, 4.42, 4.66) vs Jeff Samardzija, RHP (4.17, 3.75, 3.52, 4.03), 1:20 PM CT

Pomeranz went to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. He's 24 so there's lots of time to grow, and he hasn't been too awful in his 14 starts this year. He's had trouble with walks (4.31 BB/9) but gets grounders and strikeouts which is what you need at Coors, at least when you have a competent defense behind you.

Samardzija struggled a bit in Cincy, giving up three homers in five innings while striking out five, but at least he did not walk anyone. He's continued his pace of striking out a better per inning, and it's still crazy to see that he's set a career best walk rate this year despite primarily pitching out of the pen in the past.

Saturday: Alex White, RHP (5.55, 4.96, 4.48, 5.29) vs Brooks Raley, LHP (7.63, 6.36, 5.07, 5.43), 12:05 PM CT

White was another piece of the Ubaldo deal, and was a much smaller one than Pomeranz. He's put up a 55.8% GB rate with the Rockies, but has given up a lot of home runs when batters get some air under the ball. According to fangraphs pfx he throws mostly sinkers and sliders.

Raley was bombed by the Padres in his first start, and was meh to bad in his next two. Expect an average of the three for this one.

Sunday: Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (6.16, 6.16, 4.87, 4.13) vs Chris Volstad, RHP (6.88, 4.37, 4.37, 4.83), 1:20 PM CT

Chacin was hurt for most of the year, and this is his second start back. He allowed one run in six innings to the Mets in his last start, only striking out two. He issues a lot of free passes, but has managed to avoid trouble by getting lots of grounders and avoiding home runs. That hasn't worked out so well for him this year however, as he's given up seven homers in only six starts.

 

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