The Chicago Cubs starting pitching staff has been their team’s overall weakness. Overall on the season, the Cubs have a starter’s ERA of 4.63, which was 19th but since June 1, their starters have been even worse as they have an ERA of 5.21, which is 22nd in that span.
They only have one starting pitcher with an ERA+ that is league average or better and that’s Kyle Hendricks, with an ERA+ of 101. Adbert Alzolay, who’s 4.19 ERA has amounted to an ERA+ of 93.
Fortunately for the Cubs, their relief pitching has picked up the slack as they have eight relievers (including one currently on the injured list) who have an ERA below 3.00 with a minimum of 16 innings pitched. Overall, their bullpen has an ERA of 2.63 in 2021, which is the best in baseball.
Jon Gray is, perhaps, the best starting pitcher on the trading market and the Colorado Rockies will likely be trading him since he is a free agent after the season ends.
However, he has been on the injured list for the last three weeks.
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The Chicago Cubs will be watching the Rockies for more than one reason on Friday
Jon Gray will return on Friday, though, against the Milwaukee Brewers for their Opening Day 2.0. Jon Gray will be a key target for the Cubs, who are in desperate need of at least one starting pitcher before the July 30 trade deadline.
Gray, 29, has gone 4-6 on the 2021 season with an ERA of 4.29 (107 ERA+) but his best seasons were in 2017 and 2019. In 2017, he went 10-4 with an ERA of 3.67 in 20 starts (138 ERA+). In 2019, he went 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 26 appearances (25 starts) with an ERA+ of 133).
But also, the Cubs will be watching the Rockies game on Friday (and the entire series) with a keen eye since they are competing against the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Central title.
Entering play on Thursday, the Cubs are half of a game behind the Brewers for first place in the NL Central, despite the Brewers having the third-worst offense in baseball by wRC+.
The Cubs will be watching the rest of the series, as well, since the Rockies may have a few other players that they will be interested in trading for but also, they will be keeping an eye on the Milwaukee Brewers for the rest of the season and, perhaps, into the postseason.