In boxing, rematches between fighters can take months to take shape. For the Colorado Rockies, their timeline for revenge against the Chicago Cubs is far shorter.
Just three days separate the final game of a series at Wrigley and the Rockies’ upcoming set with the Cubs at Coors Field. In their last chance, the newly-minted hosts fell in two of three contests.
The Rockies enter the seven-game homestand off another series loss to the New York Mets. In the series, they scored only nine runs and fell prey to strikeouts once again (39).
A two-hit effort in the series finale dropped each Rockies’ hitter to under .300 for the three-game set, excluding Tony Wolters. The backstop went 3-for-6 in the series but sat on Sunday.
Ahead are keys for the Rockies in their bid to reverse their series losing spell.
Blackmon returning to his former self
Charlie Blackmon returned against the Mets after missing 15 days with a strained right calf. The results after his reinsertion into the lineup fell woefully short of his results before the ailment.
In two games against the Mets, the outfielder went 1-for-7 and failed to register an extra-base hit. The efforts lowered his season average to .295.
Without Blackmon, the club relied on both Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado to buoy their offensive efforts. The two were each able to accrue a National League Player of the Week during his injured-list stint. With a third standout offensive player at the top of the lineup, the results will only multiply.
Returning home likely pays dividends in Blackmon’s return to full health. Against a red-hot Cubs’ offense, the Rockies will need him.
Starting pitching rebounding from a terrible turn
Jeff Hoffman’s efforts in the rubber match against the Mets emphasized once again the club’s need for consistent pitching.
Expecting Hoffman and the remainder of the rotation, outside of German Marquez, to constantly put up zeroes is foolhardy. A 4.18 earned run average in the month of June sets forth an assumption that their efforts have been worthwhile.
Without Peter Lambert’s brilliant debut and Antonio Senzatela’s most recent outing, that total rises to 4.88, a mark that would sit near the bottom of the NL.
Limiting the Cubs to four-or-fewer runs in multiple games will be a catalyst to the team winning the series. In games in which they’ve failed to score more than four runs, the visitors’ record is 12-17.
Lambert will once again look to shut down the Cubs after his seven-inning debut, while German Marquez will look to bounce back from his recent disaster. In his last chance against the Cubs, the club’s top starter allowed eight earned runs. The blunder was tied for the worst of his career.
Shutting down a veteran-laden Cubs’ squad will be much harder the second time around for Lambert, with the Coors Field gaps further increasing the difficulty.
Solving a trio of Cubs’ veterans on the mound
Multiple years of contention have produced several headline-worthy additions to the Cubs’ roster. All three of their starters in the upcoming series fall into that category.
Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels were all part of a spotlight free agency addition of trade-deadline acquisition. All three have played a role in the Cubs’ bid to win the NL Central in 2019.
The Rockies faced both Darvish and Quintana last week. In their two starts, the Rockies registered five earned runs in 12.2 innings. The two clubs split the pair of meetings.
All three arms possess the stuff to go deep into games on any given day, Hamels in particular. In each of his last two starts, the veteran has gone seven-or-more scoreless innings.
With southpaws Quintana and Hamels toeing the rubber, expect Brendan Rodgers and Ian Desmond to be relied upon for added offense.
Probable pitching matchups
German Marquez (6-3, 4.07 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (2-3, 4.88 ERA)
Peter Lambert (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (4-5, 3.77 ERA)
Antonio Senzatela (5-4, 4.95 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (5-2, 3.24 ERA)