Cubs vs. Rockies Odds, Pick & Preview: Can Colorado Stay Hot Against Justin Steele? (April 14)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniel Bard and Jose Iglesias
- The Rockies are red-hot to start the season and are home favorites tonight against the Cubs.
- Chicago's lineup has been hard to figure, as has been Justin Steele, who will look to follow up his solid debut against a tough offense.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Cubs vs. Rockies Odds
|11.5 (+100 / -122)
|8:40 p.m. ET
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.
The red-hot Rockies will head back home on a four-game winning streak to take on the Cubs, who have been struggling mightily at the plate since their first two games of the season against Milwaukee.
Will we see more of the same on Thursday, or is there reason to believe Chicago turns it around? Let's have a look at the matchup below.
Cubs' Lineup Tough to Figure
The Cubs are a mystery. On paper, this lineup should not be good. Surrounding two major-league talents in Willson Contreras and Ian Happ are cast-offs and disappointments like Clint Frazier, Jason Heyward, Patrick Wisdom and Nick Madrigal.
Yet the Cubs managed 18 runs in three games against the Brewers before calming back down and scoring four over a two-game set against Pittsburgh. It all equates to a 2-3 start, but you'd have to say based on the above that they're lucky to even have two wins. Contreras has hit .308 and Happ .538, and Seiya Suzuki has made a quick adjustment to major-league pitching with three home runs and a 1.524 OPS.
Other than that, though, this team has been bad at the plate. Frank Schwindel has four hits in 17 at-bats, Madrigal and Wisdom have just one hit each for the entire season, and Frazier has two. It's only a matter of time before those three bats carrying the team come back to Earth a bit, and when that happens it's unlikely the other names in the order will be there to lift Chicago back up.
On a positive note for the Cubs, left-hander Justin Steele looked fantastic in his first start of the season. He allowed just five baserunners over five scoreless innings, striking out five against the Brewers.
While he'll have a tougher lineup to deal with this time around, it was a drastic improvement from his rookie year, when he was used mostly as a reliever, pitching to a 4.26 ERA. It also comes on the heels of a solid spring, where he posted a 2.70 ERA in three appearances.
Rockies Clicking Early On
The Rockies are that team right now. They've won four straight, taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at home before sweeping a miniature two-game set in Texas.
After a nine-run explosion at home in the series finale against L.A., Colorado scored 10 on the road against the Rangers, which is always encouraging. The Rockies are normally a bad team away from home, but last year they were extraordinary bad, posting just a 73 wRC+. At one point, they were 4-23 on the road.
So, that is pretty good news. After losing Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado in recent years, the offense appears to be stronger than ever. Kris Bryant is hitting .350, and Connor Joe .316. Only three hitters on this team have registered home runs in the early going, which is pretty crazy considering the level of success they've enjoyed at the plate.
Kyle Freeland will get the ball for the first time since his Opening Day start, which could have gone a little better. He was dealing through three innings before giving up a five-spot in the fourth inning and earning the only loss of the season for Colorado. Considering he's recorded a 4.33 ERA in consecutive seasons, it's not all that surprising that he ran into some trouble against L.A.
While the Rockies are probably over-performing a bit, you still have to say they're better-constructed offensively than the Cubs, who have been reliant on a few hitters.
The Rockies have gotten contributions up and down the lineup and won without leaning on home runs, which should give this team plenty of potential on Thursday heading back to the hitter-friendly Coors Field.
I am still very speculative of Steele, who has yet to pitch much at all at the major-league level. I do think there are some good signs, but I'm not sure I'm ready to say he will quiet a red-hot offense here. On the other hand, Freeland was pretty good against the best lineup in baseball aside from a few mistakes in a tough inning on Opening Day.
The fact that he's left-handed should also help against an offense whose best hitter is left-handed.
Pick: Rockies ML (-120)