Colorado Rockies (43-62) at Chicago Cubs (43-61)
Thursday, July 31 - 2:20 PM EST
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
While their front offices have been working overtime behind the scenes ahead of Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies have put in extra work at Wrigley Field the past two nights. After playing 26 innings while splitting the past two meetings, the teams with the two worst records in the National League wrap up their four-game set Thursday afternoon. The Rockies won 6-4 in 10 innings Wednesday, giving them a shot at salvaging a split.
The Cubs have made their share of headlines off the field lately, as they continue to deal with an eye toward the future. Chicago acquired left-hander Felix Doubrant from Boston on Wednesday and reportedly is close to moving utility man Emilio Bonifacio ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline. The Rockies have been less eager to make moves and appear poised to hang onto their coveted bullpen arms as well as stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, both of whom have been the subject of trade rumors.
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies LH Pedro Hernandez (NR) vs. Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (5-2, 2.18)
Hernandez got the call to make a spot start after the Rockies were forced to use scheduled starter Tyler Matzek during Tuesday's 16-inning marathon. The 25-year-old Venezuelan hasn't pitched in the majors since last season with Minnesota, where he went 3-3 with a 6.83 ERA in 14 games (12 starts). Hernandez has endured a rocky campaign at Triple-A Colorado Springs, going 6-6 with a 6.14 ERA in 18 games (16 starts).
Arrieta has recorded nine straight quality starts yet is in the midst of a four-start winless streak. The 28-year-old has emerged as the Cubs' most consistent starter, but they haven't rewarded him with much support of late and he didn't get a decision last time out despite holding the Cardinals to two runs over six innings. Arrieta has never faced the Rockies.
1. Colorado has won only two of its last 16 road games and is 17-35 away from home, worst in the majors.
2. The Cubs have allowed at least one run in the first inning in seven of the nine games on their current homestand and have been outscored 14-2 in the opening frame during that stretch.
3. Gonzalez sat out Wednesday as he continues to nurse right ankle and left knee injuries.
PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Rockies 3