In the movie Back to The Future, Michael J. Fox travelled forward 25 years to discover that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series as 100-1 underdogs. There has been an influx of money bet on the Cubs as a result of this. No, I’m not kidding. There have been other things that have come true in Back to The Future, including running shoes that tie themselves, so could we see another one of the predictions from the movie come true this season? If Travis Wood is going to be a staple of the rotation for the Cubs this season, I am not quite sure if that proposition is going to come true from the movie. Wood had a fine 2013 with an ERA of 3.11, but regressed back last season to a 5.03. Sure he is an okay back of the end rotation type of guy, but the Cubs really don’t have an ace to rely on. Edwin Jackson could fill that void or Jake Arrieta. However, do the Cubs have a rotation that could make Back to The Future a reality? The start of the season is always a fresh slate for everybody, so maybe they do better than I expect, but Jackson and Arrieta are going to need to lead this team. I know Arrieta had a marvelous first start of the season, allowing only 3 hits with no runs across 7 innings of work. This is a longggg season though, it’s a marathon not a sprint, which speaks volumes about betting on baseball, too.
As far as Travis Wood is concerned, the Cubs are just hoping he can pitch around his career average of 4.11. Expecting him to throw a 3.11 like he did in 2013 might be asking a little too much. In every other year of his career he was a +4.00 pitcher. If Jackson and Arrieta and light batters up and Wood can provide steady work who knows. Okay okay, I do know, the Cubs aren’t winning the World Series this season because it is a lot easier to say than do. Long-time manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon, makes the transition to Chicago with more pressure on his back to get results.
The Rockies counter with Tyler Matzek who I made some good money fading last season. Matzek is another fringe guy that could have very well been not starting in the majors this season. Him and Wood are both very lucky to be starting tonight. Matzek finished the spring season with an ERA of 6.00. And this wasn’t even while pitching at Coors in Colorado, a whiffle ball of a ballpark with the air working against pitchers. Matzek had his worst starts of 2014 at home, so how can anybody think anything is going to change now? Read below as we continue this discussion.
Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies
Travis Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Tyler Matzek (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Matzek pitched for a 4.41 ERA at home last season and had a worrisome WHIP of 1.50. With a WHIP of 1.50, Matzek is lucky that his ERA isn’t higher than it was. An interesting point that I took from researching Matzek is that he would get bombed during games during the day. I think there is something to this worth noting. Some pitchers have a certain routine that lends itself to better starts at night. During the day Matzek didn’t pick up a single win. He also had an ERA of 6.56 in day starts with a 1.67 WHIP. Conversely, at night he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Matzek pitched only .2 innings against the Cubs last year where he got belted for a 13.50 ERA.
Like Matzek, Wood had his struggles during spring training. There are some pitchers I won’t put any stock into when handicapping their spring starts. But guys that are fighting for a job and still do bad doesn’t sit well with me. Wood ended spring training with a 4.87 ERA, which was enough to be able to hold off Kyle Hendrick. Wood does have some pop with his bat, he hit two long balls during the preseason, so that made the decision easier to have him in the rotation instead of Hendrick. Both teams should be able to hit around 5 runs in this game which would push it OVER the posted total of 10. During the day expect the thin air to help balls carry in Colorado. These are two pitchers that are fortunate to be here right now as they were able to barely make the rotation. This isn’t the best ballpark for either to catch some momentum in their first starts. I’ll be taking the OVER 10.
PICK: OVER 10 RUNS (-115)