The timing couldn’t be better, as the Rockies come to Chicago for a three-game set just a day after former franchise cornerstone Carlos González joined the Cubs. The outfielder admitted to media members prior to Monday’s makeup that the Rox could sense the Cubs’ weakness heading into last year’s Wild Card tilt, though that sense should be long gone at this point.
Then again, Colorado enters with a 9-1 record in their last 10 while the Cubs are at 3-7 in that same time. So, you know, maybe the limping thing still applies. The home team will attempt to get that turned around behind Kyle Schwarber in left, Kris Bryant at third, Anthony Rizzo at first, and Javy Báez at short.
They’ll be trying to hassle 26-year-old righty Jeff Hoffman, who’s making just his fourth start of the season and fifth in the last two years. He has allowed 12 runs in his previous starts, all of which have lasted five innings, but hasn’t beaten himself with poor control or hard contact. The issue seems to be pumping too many hittable fastballs early in the count.
Hoffman’s 70% first-pitch strike rate is exceptionally high and his 94 mph heater isn’t exactly a huge weapon. His curve is pretty decent, though, and he’ll dial it up big time when he gets ahead. Righties will also see it on first pitch as much as half of the time. Since abandoning his slider this season, Hoffman’s curve has become his go-to secondary.
He’s also got a firm changeup that he’s equally comfortable throwing to batters on either side, though it’s not an out pitch. The change just keeps hitters guessing, then it’s going to be either fastball or curve with two strikes. This is one of those games in which Cubs hitters should be looking for their pitch and driving it, since Hoffman’s stuff really isn’t enough to shut them down.
Speaking of which, Kyle Hendricks was money in his last start against the Astros in Houston. The Cubs will need that from him again, even if Norman Avocado and Co. aren’t quite as powerful when playing closer to sea level. As always, the key for Hendricks will be limiting walks and homers.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 7:05pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 4, 2019