As the Colorado Rockies wind down their series win against the National League East leading Nationals, we look forward to their next opponent, the Chicago Cubs, who also happens to lead their division. Not only do the Cubs lead the NL Central, but they top all of Major League Baseball in wins and have no signs of slowing down as we drift into August/September playoff pushes. What do the Rockies need to do to win this series and to keep us relevant in September? Here are three things the Rockies need to do to win the weekend series.
1. Score runs early. The Cubs are in first place for a reason. Yes, they score a lot of runs, but they also are very good not letting teams score on them. The Cubs rank first in ERA, Quality Starts, WHIP and Batting Average Against this season. These stats are all mostly compiled even without their newest closer Aroldis Chapman, who was acquired on July 25th. What can the Colorado Rockies do?
The Rockies offense has proven they can score runs against even the best of pitchers (hence nine ER against Stephen Strasburg in the series finale), so this would be a perfect opportunity to score a lot of runs early and not let the Cubs use their bullpen late to put us away.
2. Don’t let the amount of Cubs fans present at the game make you feel like you’re playing on the road. Going to Coors field when the Cubs are in town is one of my least favorite times to go. The last three seasons, I seem to always catch a game against the Cubs, and every year I feel as if Rockies fans are outnumbered. This can be frustrating for hometown fans, and I can imagine it would be for the players as well.
Piggybacking off of my first point, if the Rockies can score early and maintain a lead, this will help to keep that “fan advantage” at bay. Even though I do not like seeing so many away fans at the ballpark, this is a good opportunity to see Coors Field fill their stadium more than normal and bring a completely different atmosphere to the ballpark. Having the louder crowds helps to make closer games that much more exciting, and that much more thrilling when the Rockies pull out the win.
3. The Rockies starting pitching needs to go deep into each game. The Rockies as of late have had problems holding leads late, and letting runs score past the 6th inning. This is something that you can still win games doing, however when you play a solid team like the Chicago Cubs, they will make you pay for poor late pitching.
Tyler Anderson, a pitcher to be determined and Jorge De La Rosa are scheduled to start this weekend and none of them were part of the series earlier this season in Chicago. This can pose as an advantage for our starters to cruise through their first-time through the order and try to set them all down before wrapping back up to the top of the lineup.
This series one the Rockies need to win to try and keep any sort of relevance in the Wild Card hunt as they go into the weekend 6.5 games back. I do think the Rockies play up to their competition better than they do playing down to worse teams, so I expect a good series in Colorado and look for the Rockies to win at least two games this weekend.