Seiya Suzuki broke into the majors with a bang, getting a hit in his first six games with the Chicago Cubs.
He didn’t start Friday but drew an intentional walk in Colorado’s 6-5 win over Chicago on Friday night, but he is expected back in the lineup Saturday night when the Cubs and Rockies play the third game of a four-game series in Denver.
Chicago will send right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. to the mound in his first appearance in the majors since 2018 while Colorado will counter with righty Antonio Senzatela (0-0, 2.70 ERA).
Suzuki, 27, who saw his hitting streak end with his walk, hasn’t been overwhelmed by the move from Japan to Chicago. He is hitting .368 with three home runs and 10 RBIs and has quickly earned the respect of his teammates.
“I’ll take him every day in my lineup,” first baseman Frank Schwindel said of the two-time Japan Central League batting champ after Thursday’s win over the Rockies. “He’s just fun to be around. He’s a great hitter and he’s got a great eye, which I think is more impressive, adjusting to the pitching here.”
Leiter was announced as the starter before Friday’s game. He was on the taxi squad and will need to be added to the 40-man roster before Saturday night. He has a 1.08 ERA in three relief appearances in his career against Colorado.
Leiter’s last start in the majors was Sept. 27, 2017, when he was with Philadelphia, and his most recent appearance came nearly a year later when he pitched one inning of relief for Toronto on Sept. 25, 2018. Leiter had Tommy John surgery in March 2019.
He signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs in December and will take Wade Miley’s spot in the rotation for at least one start. Miley (left-elbow inflammation) is on the 10-day injured list.
Leiter will make his return in a park that traditionally isn’t friendly to pitchers, but Senzatela has fared well in the altitude. He went 3-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 home starts in 2021. His first start this season was short, lasting just 3 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he allowed four runs — one earned — in a game the Rockies won 9-4 last Sunday.
He has appeared in six games — five starts — in his career against Chicago and is 1-1 with a 7.09 ERA.
The series is a reunion for Colorado outfielder Kris Bryant. He was the National League MVP for the Cubs in 2016, the year they won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.
Bryant was traded to San Francisco last summer and signed with the Rockies in March. He has quickly become a fan favorite in Denver and still sees the support from Chicago fans as the team remains close to his heart.
“Just because I don’t play for the Cubs anymore, it’s not like you turn the page,” he said.
He hasn’t held back against his former team, either. He had two hits Thursday night in the Rockies’ 5-2 loss, another two Friday, and also made a diving catch in left field to rob Nico Hoerner of a hit.
–Field Level Media