Saturday, June 22, 2024
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MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs (78-67) at Colorado Rockies (51-92)

CHICAGO CUBS NOTES:

Cubs vs. Rockies
The Cubs and play six games spanning two series beginning with this three-game set in Denver … the teams meet for three contests at Wrigley Field, Sept. 22-24 … the Cubs are looking for their first season series victory over the Rockies since going 4-2 against them in 2015.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: The Chicago Cubs today play the second of three games against the Colorado Rockies after last evening erasing a 4-3 ninth-inning deficit with a two-run single from Yan Gomes en route to a 5-4 victory … following this series in Colorado, the Cubs have Thursday off before a three-game series against the Diamondbacks, starting Friday … this series will put a bow on a stretch of 27 games in 27 days for Chicago that featured one off day (Sept. 1) followed by a split doubleheader in Cincinnati. This past weekend’s Diamondbacks series, in which the Cubs dropped the first three games before winning yesterday’s series finale, is just the second series setback in the team’s last 16 series dating to July 17 (12-2-2). The Cubs are 22-13 in their last 35 games and 37-16 in their last 53 games since July 18 … following play on July 20, the Cubs sat 7.0-games out of a wildcard spot and 8.5-games back of the division lead.

DANDY ARMS IN THE LAST 19: In their 19 games since Aug. 24, the Cubs have the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.73 (52 ER/171.1 IP) while their 1.11 WHIP is third-lowest
behind only Milwaukee (0.99) and Tampa Bay (1.01). © The Cubs starting rotation has posted a 2.11 ERA (26 ER/111.0 IP) in the last 19 games since Aug. 24, the top mark in the majors ahead of Detroit (2.60) and Milwaukee (2.82) … Cubs starters in this span have pitched to a 1.05 WHIP with 19 walks compared to 103 strikeouts. Chicago’s relievers have produced a 3.88 ERA (26 ER/60.1 IP) in the club’s last 19 games since Aug. 24, seventh in the N.L. and 11th in the majors.

DEBUT DUDES: The Cubs have had seven players make their major league debuts this season with outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong the most recent last night in Colorado … he joins Miguel Amaya, Matt Mervis, Daniel Palencia, Jordan Wicks, Alexander Canario and Luke Little … Chicago has utilized 47 players this season after using 69 in 2021 and 64 in 2022. The team has five players on the current roster who started the season at Double-A or lower: Amaya, Crow-Armstrong, Little, Palencia and Wicks.

WHAT LIES AHEAD: Chicago, currently in the second Wild Card spot (1.5 games behind Philadelphia for the top WC spot and 2.0 games ahead of Arizona in the third WC spot) and 3.0 games behind Milwaukee in the N.L. Central race, has just 17 regular season games remaining, including six at home and 11 on the road … nine of those 17 games are against clubs with winning records (3 games against Arizona, 3 against Atlanta and 3 against Milwaukee).

ABOUT THE RECORD: The Cubs sit 11-games over .500 at 78-67 after reaching a season-high 12-games over .500 at 76-64 … Chicago was 26-36 following play on June 8 and this marks the first time in franchise history that the club reached 10 games over .500 in a season in which it sat at least 10 games under .500. Since waking up June 9 sitting at 26-36, the Cubs are 21-games over .500 at 52-31 (.627), the third-best mark in the N.L. and fourth in the majors behind Atlanta (56-26/.683), Baltimore (53-28/.654) and the Dodgers (51-29/.637). The team’s 78 victories this season already surpasses its output from all of last year in which the club finished 74-88.

RUNNING MEN: Nico Hoerner (38 steals) and Cody Bellinger (20) are the first Cubs duo to record at least 20 steals in a season since Tony Campana (30) and Starlin Castro (25) did so in 2012.

DANSBY’S BEEN DIVINE: According to Fangraphs, Dansby Swanson leads major league shortstops with 17 defensive runs saved this season … at the dish, is hitting .371 (13- for-35) with three doubles, a homer and seven RBI in his last nine games since Sept. 3.

BELLI REACHING NEW HEIGHTS: Cody Bellinger reached 20 stolen bases on Saturday and on Sunday reached 25 home runs with a solo shot against Arizona … he’s just the
fourth Cub ever to reach 25 homers and 20 steals in a season, joining Ryne Sandberg (done in 1985, 1990 and 1991), Sammy Sosa (done in 1991, 1993-95 and 1997) and Javier Báez (done in 2018). Bellinger’s 67 RBI since July 1 lead the majors (Matt Olson is second with 60 RBI in that span). This season, Bellinger’s .317 average is sixth in the majors, his .910 OPS and .550 slugging percentage both rank eighth.

MAN OF STEELE: Including one run in 7.0 innings on Saturday, Justin Steele leads the majors with a 2.49 ERA while his 16 victories are tied for the major league lead with Atlanta’s Spencer Strider.

CLOSE CALLS: Chicago has played 16 one-run games since Aug. 1, the most in the majors ahead of the Nationals (14), Mariners (13) and Brewers (13) … the Cubs are 9-7 in these one-run games and, on the season, have gone 20-20 in one-run affairs.

A RESURGENT SEIYA: Seiya Suzuki in his last 24 games since Aug. 18 is hitting .362 (34-for-94) with a .408 on-base percentage and a .681 slugging mark … in that span, his 11 doubles and 18 extra-base hits lead the majors while his 64 total bases are tied for fifth … his .362 average in this stretch is tied for sixth in baseball.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: September 4’s shutout of the Giants was Chicago’s 12th of the season, fifth-most in the N.L. … last season, the Cubs recorded 11 shutouts. On the other end of the spectrum, Cubs batters have logged 22 games with at least 10 runs s

Starting Pitcher – #72 RHP Javier Assad (3-3, 2.83)
Last Time Out
Javier on Sept. 7 suffered his first loss since May 9, allowing three runs on a career-high tying seven hits in 5.1 IP … has allowed three runs or fewer in all six of his starts since joining the rotation on Aug. 5 (2.34 ERA) … snapped his nine-start streak of allowing two earned runs or fewer dating to Sept. 29, 2022 … had his 14.0 IP scoreless streak dating to Aug. 27 snapped in the first inning.

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
9/7 ARI L, 2-6 5.1 7 3 3 0 1 87-53 1-3, 1 on
2023 Splits and Season Notes
W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
Home 0-3 3.71 16 4 51.0 48 22 21 23 42
Road 3-0 1.74 10 4 41.1 29 8 8 11 25
AVG vs. LHB: .240 (37-for-154) / AVG vs. RHB: .222 (40-for-180)

Javier is scheduled to make his 27th appearance of the season (ninth start) tonight … has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in 42.1 IP (2.34 ERA) in seven starts since being added to the rotation Aug. 5 … owns a 1.74 ERA (8 ER/41.1 IP) on the road this season, the lowest road ERA in the majors (min. 40.0 IP) … has pitched to a 1.67 ERA (12 ER/64.2 IP) in 16 outings (seven starts) since June 27 … is 4-3 with a 2.74 ERA (25 ER/82.0 IP) in 16 career starts, compared to 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA (17 ER/48.0 IP) in 19 career relief appearances. Registered a 14.0 IP scoreless streak spanning starts from Aug. 27-Sept.2. Sept. 2 in Cincinnati, tossed a career-high 8.0 scoreless innings with a careerhigh-tying seven strikeouts. From June 27-August 4, posted a 0.40 ERA (1 ER/22.1 IP) in nine relief outings, the second-lowest ERA among major league relievers during that span (min. 15.0 IP) … held opponents scoreless in eight of the nine outings. Has made four starts over three stints with Triple-A Iowa in 2023 (April 10-20, April 21-May 3, May 12-24), going 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA (6 ER/14.2 IP). Made his first career Opening Day roster, appearing in two games in relief (6 ER/4.1 IP) … was optioned to Iowa April 10. Pitched in three games (one start) in spring training, posting a 2.57 ERA (2
ER/7.0 IP). Pitched for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in two relief appearances

COLORADO ROCKIES NOTES:

DOWN THE STRETCH

  • The Colorado Rockies continue their penultimate homestand of the season tonight as they play the second of three games against the Chicago Cubs from before hosting the San Francisco Giants Thursday-Sunday … went 1-5 over the last road trip, taking two of three in Arizona before dropping three-straight in San Francisco over the weekend, the 11th time this season the Rockies were swept in a series of at least three games. Since Aug. 7, 29 of the Rockies 32 games have come against teams with winning records … 16 of the 19 games remaining on the schedule are also against teams at or above .500, with the lone games against a non-winning team coming against San Diego Sept. 18-20. Colorado’s current five-game losing streak is the sixth time this season the club has gone on a losing streak of five or more in a row (last: six, Aug.20-26)

NO CUBS NO

  • Neither the Rockies nor the Cubs have swept the other in a series since Colorado won three-straight Sept. 25-27, 2012 at Coors Field … per Elias, the 18 series between the clubs since that sweep is tied for the second-longest streak all-time for two clubs to have faced each other without a sweep (min. three game series) … the other streaks are between the Padres/Nationals (18 series, April 27, 2014-June 25, 2023) and Mets/Padres (29 series, Aug. 7, 2008-July 9, 2023).

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

  • Hunter Goodman has hit safely in 10 of his first 13 career games, going 13-for-43 with four doubles, two triple and 13 RBI … is the second Rockie in franchise history to have at least 13 hits, 13 RBI and seven extra-base hits and through their first 13 career games along with Trevor Story (2016) … second Rockie all-time to have three triples through his first 12 games (also: Roberto Mejia, 1993). Elehuris Montero extended his career-long on-base streak to 19 games last night after going 1-for-2 with two hit-by-pitches… slashing .383/.472/.600. across this span with five doubles, one triple and two home runs … tied for the fourth-longest active on-base streak in the Majors, third-longest in the NL. 13-year veteran Charlie Blackmon had his 22 game on-base streak snapped on Sunday night … was the fourth-longest streak of his career and his longest since a 31-game streak in 2019 … slashed .333/.448/.487 over that stretch … has reached base in 23 of 24 since being reinstated from the injured list on Aug. 14, slashing .314/.423/.465 over that span.

STRONG ARMED

  • Rookie outfielders Nolan Jones (98.8 MPH) and Brenton Doyle (96.5 MPH) rank first and sixth, respectively, among all Major Leaguers in average arm strength. Last night, Jones recorded his 15th outfield assist of the season, the third-most in franchise history … measured at 102.7 MPH, the outfield assist was the fastest by a Rockie in the Statcast Era (since 2015), and fastest in the Majors since Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 103.4 MPH assist on June 19, 2018. On Sept. 2, Brenton Doyle recorded the fastest-tracked outfield throw in the Statcast Era, a 105.7 MPH throw to hold a runner at third … also made a throw tied for the fastest outfield assist in the Majors this season, a 100.9 MPH assist to get a runner at third. The pair own four of the top-five fastest outfield assists in the Majors, with Doyle owning four of the top 10 … they are the only players in the Majors with multiple outfield assists over 100 MPH. Nolan Jones’ 15 outfield assists are tied for the most in the Majors and are the third-most in a season in franchise history despite only 71 starts in the outfield. Per Sarah Langs, the Rockies four outfield assists 100+ MPH are the most by any team in the Statcast Era, ahead of the 2015 Rays who had three.

IN WITH THE NEWBIES

  • Ezequiel Tovar and Nolan Jones are the first rookies in franchise history to each steal at least 10 bases while hitting 10-plus home runs … their 15 home runs each are tied for the fifth-most in franchise history for a rookie. Friday night, Jones became the first Rockie with a home run, a stolen base and an outfield assist in the same game since Carlos González on May 25, 2013 also at San Francisco … was the first rookie in franchise history to log at least one home run, one double and one stolen base at Oracle Park. Tovar, Jones and fellow rookie Brenton Doyle each have more than 10 stolen bases and at least eight home runs, the second rookie trio on the same team since 1972 to match those numbers, joining the 2023 Reds.

GOLDEN GLOW

  • Ryan McMahon’s 16 defensive runs saved are tied for the seventh-most in the Majors and are the second-most among all third basemen. Ezequiel Tovar’s .987 fielding percentage is tied with Troy Tulowitzki (2007) for the best fielding percentage by a rookie shortstop in Major League history … highest since Pete Kozma in 2013 (.984). Center fielder Brenton Doyle’s 15.0 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which factors in arm strength, range and errors, is the best in baseball, leading second-place Fernado Tatis Jr. with a 10.6 UZR (FanGraphs) … the Braves’ Michael Harris II is the nearest center fielder with a 5.7 UZR.

NEWS WITH THE VETS

  • On Friday Major League Baseball announced all 30 nominees for the 2023 Roberto Clemente Award, with the Rockies’ Kyle Freeland earning the second nomination of his career following his first in 2022 … Freeland, a Denver native, and his wife, Ashley, have been longtime boosters of Special Olympics Colorado, volunteering at numerous events and holding fundraising raffles to benefit the non-profit. The Rockies announced Friday that they agreed to a two-year contract extension with right-handed pitcher Germán Márquez covering the 2024-25 seasons … Márquez, who underwent Tommy John surgery on May 12, ranks second in franchise history in strikeouts, two shy of tying Jorge De La Rosa for the franchise record … also ranks third in wins, fifth in starts and sixth in ERA (min. 500 IP).

ROCKIES STARTING PITCHER – #32 CHRIS FLEXEN RHP
WELCOME TO COLORADO

  • After signing a Minor League contract with the Rockies on July 13, Chris Flexen makes his ninth start with the club. Selected by the Mets in the 14th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Memorial HS (Newark, Calif.) … was committed to play for Arizona State University but chose to sign with New York-NL. Released by New York-NL on Dec. 11, 2019 before signing with the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 18, 2020. Designated for assignment by Seattle and traded back to the Mets on July 3 with Trevor Gott for Zach Muckenheim … released by New York-NL on July 6.

LAST TIME OUT

  • Got tagged for six runs on four hits in 2.1 innings of work against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday in Arizona … allowed one home run and two walks while striking out three … allowed five runs in the third inning.

CHRIS B. FLEXEN

  • Has gone 1-3 with a 6.98 ERA (38.2 IP, 30 ER) in eight starts since joining the Rockies rotation on July 29. Lost his first start on July 29 against Oakland, allowing six runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings while issuing a career-high six walks. Since that first start, has posted a 6.43 ERA (35 IP, 25 ER) with seven walks and 27 strikeouts … has allowed 45 hits (.308 average) and 10 home runs. Earned his first win of the season Aug. 4 at St. Louis after allowing three runs on 10 hits over five innings while walking none and striking out two.

FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF

  • Made four career appearances against Chicago-NL, going 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA over 6.1 innings (nine ER) … all four outings (one start) have come at Wrigley Field. Only start came on April 11 as a member of the Mariners … went 2.1 innings and allowed eight runs on 10 hits with two walks and one strikeout in the 14-9 Mariners loss.

2023 B.C. (BEFORE COLORADO)

  • Pitched in 17 games (four starts) for the Mariners in 2023 prior to being designated for assignment … went 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA (42.0 IP, 36 ER), 19 walks and 29 strikeouts. Went 0-4 in four starts with Seattle, all from April 5-23 … posted a 10.38 ERA over 17.1 innings pitched with 20 earned runs. Last start with Seattle came on April 23 against St. Louis … tossed four innings and allowed six runs on nine hits, two home runs, with three walks and three strikeouts. Moved to the bullpen after his start on April 23 … posted a 5.84 ERA (24.2 IP, 16 ER) as a reliever.

ALTITUDE

  • Has made six career appearances at Coors Field, including his four starts as a member of the home team … has allowed 21 runs (19 earned) on 31 hits with nine walks, one hit batter and 17 strikeouts. Prior to joining the Rockies, made one start at Coors Field on Aug. 2, 2017 and one relief appearance on June 21, 2018.

FEELIN 22

  • Last season, went 8-9 with two saves and a 3.73 ERA over 137.2 innings in 33 games (22 starts) … limited opponents to a .250 average (132-for-529), walked 51 and struck out 95. Went 7-9 with a 4.02 ERA (121.0 IP, 54 ER) in his 22 starts. Went 3-0 with 1.95 ERA (27.2 IP, 6 ER) in five starts in July … limited opponents to a .204 (21-for-103) average, while walking 12 and striking out 18 …among AL pitchers in July, ranked 5th in ERA (min. 27.0 IP).
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