Network Notebook: Rockies/Cubs Series Preview

SURPRISING ROCKIES CAN PROVE THEY'RE FOR REAL IN FOUR-GAME WEEKEND SERIES VS. CUBS

Before the season began, who would have thought baseball fans would be so intrigued by the Colorado Rockies visiting the Chicago Cubs for four games in Wrigley Field in early June?!

It was assumed the Cubs would be running away with the National League by now...at least their easy-to-win division. Colorado? Maybe a .500 caliber team if their young talent produced...but only a Wildcard contender at best.

Instead, it's the Rockies who've spent most of the 2017 season so far playing like they're the new Cubs. While, Chicago has been stumbling around, kicking things over, only looking good when weak opponents come to visit Wrigley.

Colorado's not a weak opponent, but finds itself in a rare high-pressure situation with a chance to prove themselves. Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats to see how the series may play out this weekend. Remember, this is a FOUR-game set that begins Thursday night.

TEAM QUALITY
Colorado: +59 runs, while playing 30 home games and 31 road games
Chicago Cubs: +13 runs, while playing 31 home games and 27 road games

Very impressive start for the Rockies. It's not like they've been taking advantage of home cooking or an easy schedule. They play in a tougher division than the Cubs, and are slightly on the wrong end of the home/road split. The Cubs would barely be above run equality if they had played the same number of road games as home games. Plenty of time for things to turn around. But, it's very clear "right now" that Colorado has been playing better baseball than the Cubs in 2017.

TEAM OFFENSE
Colorado: 5.2 runs-per-game, .330 on-base, .444 slugging
Chicago Cubs: 4.7 runs-per-game, .325 on-base, .411 slugging

Colorado's offensive stats are often polluted by playing home games at altitude. Their run scoring isn't as dynamic as those numbers would suggest when neutralized. They can get some things done...but they're not an offensive juggernaut. This year, the Cubs have benefitted from several "wind blowing out" scenarios at home, which has also padded their stats. In fact, that's a lousy slugging percentage in context. For now, offensive edge to the Rockies, with neither being as good as their full season numbers would suggest. That could mean Unders in this series when the wind is blowing in.

THURSDAY
Chatwood: 4.60 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.5 K's per 9 innings
Lester: 3.91 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 9.0 K's per 9 innings

Lester's strikeout advantage is the key reason his ERA is better. Chatwood's tendency to pitch to contact can bite him vs. quality offenses. That being said, Lester's advantages aren't so big that he should be a prohibitive market favorite. As we prepare this preview for you, Lester is laying -180. Too much if you're betting for value. If you're just betting the Cubs all the time because you figure they'll get things rolling eventually...that's been a painful strategy for you! Edge to the Cubs straight up, but to the Rockies at that high underdog return.

FRIDAY
Marquez: 4.53 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 8.7 K's per 9 innings
Hendricks: 4.09 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.4 K's per 9 innings

Not as mediocre as those stats look because of the home field influences. Hendricks has done a better job of keeping opponents off base. But, Marquez is better at getting strikeouts. Once you give Colorado the edge on offense, the game grades out as a wash. Will the market price it that way?

SATURDAY
Hoffman: 2.61 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 11.3 K's per 9 innings
Butler: 3.75 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.8 K's per 9 innings

Hoffman has only made three starts this season, in four total appearances. So, don't assume he's an ace just yet. Those are great numbers obviously. How long can he get Kershaw-like results?! Butler's always playing with fire because of that low K-Rate. He's been getting away with it so far. Tricky one for handicappers because Hoffman isn't THAT good, and Butler's ERA is better than you'd expect with that WHIP and K-rate.

SUNDAY
Senzatela: 3.19 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 5.9 K's per 9 innings
Arrieta: 4.46 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10.0 K's per 9 innings

Before the season began, you would have guessed those ERA's would have been reversed. You probably hadn't even heard of Senzatela. Arrieta was supposed to maintain the ace caliber performance levels he'd enjoyed since moving to the inferior league. Arrieta is still striking people out. Senzatela is very unlikely to maintain such a low ERA with that poor K-Rate (particularly on the Colorado Rockies). But...with Sunday's favorite price for Arrieta be justified given those ERA's?

Maybe it's just best that you study this series for future reference! Colorado is legitimately much-improved, but is still due to regress. The Cubs are just a few months removed from celebrating a World Championship, and are overdue to shake off their hangover. Will that happen this weekend? The Cubs might win three or all four. Will that hold off until July or August? In that case Colorado could be a value steal at the prices posted all four days.

Better let JIM HURLEY handle this one for you! If there's an edge to be found in this series, he'll track it down for you. If not, he'll find BIG, JUICY WINNERS elsewhere on the board.

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Enjoy this showcase series in Major League Baseball. Hook up now with JIM HURLEY so you can GET ALL THE MONEY!

22
Sep

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