The Rockies and the Cubs kick off their weekend series with an afternoon game at 2:20pm ET Friday at Wrigley Field. Rookie Noah Davis gets the start for Colorado against veteran Jameson Taillon for the Cubs.
Betting odds have the Cubs as heavy favorites at -198 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 8.5 runs. Read below about the prediction that the Cubs win and the over hits.
Rockies vs. Cubs Prediction
Note: all metrics taken before Thursday’s games
Starting pitchers: RHP Noah Davis (0-2, 9.58 ERA) vs. RHP Jameson Taillon (7-10, 5.27 ERA)
What’s the opposite of a pitcher’s duel? A slugfest? A batter battle? Whatever the right term for that is, that’s what we have in this game.
Colorado rookie Noah Davis is making just his 5th career start and 8th career appearance in this game as the Rockies look to get him some big league experience and evaluate his potential fit on next year’s active roster. The 26-year-old has struggled in his limited opportunities so far this season, though he did pitch 2 scoreless innings in his last appearance on September 17 against the Giants.
Davis is going to be overmatched by a Cubs lineup that is not only one of the best in the big leagues since the All-Star break, but also is playing with a high sense urgency as they battle for a Wild Card spot in the National League. As of this writing (before their game Thursday night), Chicago trails the Diamondbacks by 1.5 games for the second Wild Card spot and maintains the slimmest of leads over the Marlins (0.5 games back) and Reds (1 GB) for the final spot.
The Cubs were the hottest offense in the league for a long stretch of the season, which helped them climb back into the playoff picture. While they have cooled off some in the last few weeks, they are still 3rd in the league in runs scored since the All-Star break. It’s hard to know what to expect against a pitcher like Davis whom they’ve never seen before, but we like their chances to have success at the plate tonight.
The same cannot be said for the Rockies, even with what should be a good matchup against Jameson Taillon. They have been one of the weakest offenses in the league for most of the season, especially after trading away some of their best veteran hitters like CJ Cron and Randal Grichuk at the trade deadline. Colorado is dead last this season in wRC+, an important advanced metric for them because it incorporates park factors, and Coors Field is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league.
The Rockies do have a small advantage having just seen Taillon on September 13. The veteran righty allowed 5 runs (3 earned) over 5 innings that day in Colorado. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Taillon has had the worst season of his career this season by a fairly significant margin. Even a below-average lineup like Colorado’s just showed that they can do some damage against him, and there is a decent enough chance that they can do so again.
For all those reasons, the best bet in this game is the over on 8.5 runs. We expect both lineups to have some success against these starting pitchers, and as we discuss further below, the bullpens are unlikely to offer much resistance late in the game either.
The -198 moneyline odds on the Cubs are not really playable, so we’re going to lay the 1.5 runs and get the +110 odds instead. If the game is high-scoring as expected, that makes it more likely that the Cubs will be able to win by at least 2 runs.
Rockies vs. Cubs Prediction: Cubs -1.5 (+110), over 8.5 runs (-108)
Rockies vs. Cubs Odds
The Cubs are heavy favorites at -198 on the moneyline, while the Rockies’ moneyline odds are at +165.
The Cubs are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +110 odds, while the Rockies are getting +1.5 runs at -130 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 8.5 runs with -108 odds on the over and -112 odds on the under.
Rockies vs. Cubs Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Rockies vs. Cubs.
Noah Davis vs. Cubs’ hitters
A big reason we picked the Cubs to cover the -1.5 spread in our Rockies vs. Cubs prediction is their matchup with an inexperienced rookie pitcher who has done little to inspire much confidence in his brief action in the big leagues. There is always some level of unknown when facing a pitcher for the first time, so the Cubs need to follow through with some solid offensive production for that pick to pay off.
The only Cubs hitter that has faced Davis is Cody Bellinger, who had one at-bat against him last season as a member of the Dodgers. The result of that at-bat? A solo homer. If that portends what’s to come today, then this pick should be looking good.
Some of the Cubs’ hottest hitters right now are Seiya Suzuki and Nico Hoerner, who each are hitting over .300 with an OPS over .800 over the last two weeks. Those hitters’ at-bats against Davis will also be critical to the outcome of this game.
We mentioned earlier that both bullpens are vulnerable to giving up some runs late in this game, which is another reason we picked the over on 8.5 runs in our Rockies vs. Cubs prediction.
The Cubs are missing several key pieces of their bullpen right now. The big one is closer Adbert Alzolay, who has been excellent this season with 22 saves and a 2.71 ERA. He is currently on the IL along with Michael Fulmer, who has pitched the fourth-most relief innings for Chicago this season.
The Rockies have had one of the weakest bullpens all season. They are 29th in ERA (5.28) and dead last in average, OBP, SLG, wOBA and WHIP. They are also dead last in all those categories except SLG over the last 30 days.
So, yeah, if the Cubs need to score some late runs to push the total over 8.5 or their lead over 1.5, then they stand a pretty good chance of doing that.
Rockies vs. Cubs Starting Lineups (Projected)
Rockies Starting Lineup
DH Charlie Blackmon (L)
2B Brendan Rogers (R)
LF Nolan Jones (L)
C Elias Diaz (R)
RF Kris Bryant (R)
3B Ryan McMahon (L)
SS Ezequiel Tovar (R)
1B Elehuris Montero (R)
CF Brenton Doyle (R)
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF Mike Tauchman (L)
2B Nico Hoerner (R)
LF Ian Happ (S)
1B Cody Bellinger (L)
SS Dansby Swanson (R)
RF Seiya Suzuki (R)
DH Christopher Morel (R)
C Yan Gomes (R)
3B Nick Madrigal (R)