Game Thirty-Eight: Cubs (15-22) vs. Rockies (20-17)
- Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WCIU – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 185/844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33/0.93) vs. Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72/1.40)
The Cubs are coming off an impressive trip to Washington D.C and open a six-game homestand tonight with the first of three against the surprising Colorado Rockies. After winning the last two in the Nation’s Capital, Dale Sveum’s team is 4-6 in the last 10 games and is threatening to move out of the cellar in the central, the Cubs begin play tonight just a game back of the fourth place Milwaukee Brewers
This is a rare homestand for the Cubs. All three games against the Rockies are night games then after Thursday’s off day, the Cubs close out the homestand with three straight day games against the Metropolitans.
The Cubs are 7-11 in the first 18 games of the year at Wrigley Field and will have their hands full with the Colorado Rockies for the next three nights. Walt Weiss and company are also 4-6 in their last 10 after a miserable trip to St. Louis in which they did not score a single run over the first two games. Colorado salvaged the finale on Sunday and enters play tonight two games back of the Giants in the west.
After tonight’s matchup of Travis Wood against Juan Nicasio, the Cubs will face two starters they have not had much success against over the years. Carlos Villanueva takes on lefty Jeff Francis on Tuesday night with Jeff Samardzija facing Jon Garland in the finale on Wednesday.
The Cubs won two of the six games (2-4) with the Rockies a year ago and have not taken a season series from the Rockies since 2008. Lou’s Crew was 5-1 versus Colorado five years ago, but since the Cubs are just 8-15 in the last 23 games with Colorado.
Luis Valbuena is not expected to spend any time on the DL after jamming the pinky on his right hand sliding headfirst into third base during the fifth inning of Saturday’s game. With the injury to his right hand, Valbuena could not throw Sunday so his availability for tonight’s game is in question. With Francis starting on Tuesday, Sveum might give Valbuena a couple of days to rest the injury before testing it later in the week.
Tonight all starts with Travis Wood …
It will be interesting to see how Travis Wood pitches in tonight’s game. Wood is coming off an excellent start against the Cardinals in which he held the Redbirds to one run on five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The start was so good that it prompted Dale Sveum to declare that Wood is the best starter in baseball. While Wood has been very good, he is not the best starter in baseball. Wood said he has to stay humble and was surprised by his manager’s statement. Wood must bring his A-game tonight or the high-powered Rockies offense will put up a ton of runs.
Wood has credited the work he has put in with pitching coach Chris Bosio as the main reason for his early success this season. Wood has made seven starts this season and has completed at least six innings while not allowing more than three earned runs in each of those starts … for those scoring at home, that is seven quality starts in seven appearances.
Travis Wood 1-1 in his last two starts with a 2.51 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and three walks in 14 1/3 innings … and 1-2 in four starts at Wrigley this year with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
Travis Wood has not beaten the Rockies in two career starts. Wood is 0-1 in three games, two starts, against the Rockies with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Wood did not face the Rockies last season.
Rockies Career Numbers against Travis Wood
- Dexter Fowler – 1-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Carlos Gonzalez – 0-for-7
- Jonathan Herrera – 0-for-3
- Jordan Pacheco – 0-for-1
- Troy Tulowitzki – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Eric Young Jr. – 1-for-2 with a walk
The Cubs will get their first look at Juan Nicasio tonight. Nicasio has pitched rather well for the Rockies, just not deep in games. Nicasio received his fourth no decision of the season in his last outing against the Yankees. Nicasio allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and five strikeouts in five innings. The Rockies lost the game 3-2. Nicasio has not allowed more than three earned runs in his last four starts while striking out 13 batters and issuing just four walks over that span (14 innings).
The Cubs must be patient, especially early on, against Nicasio. The 26-year old right hander has never pitched at Wrigley Field and they might be able to put a couple of runs on the board if they make him work.
Juan Nicasio is 2-0 in four starts outside of Coors Field this season with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.
Dioner Navarro (1-for-4 with a walk), Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with a walk) and Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3) are the only Cubs on the active roster with limited at bats against Juan Nicasio.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …