When the Rockies arrive in Cincinnati on Friday to begin a three-game series, they only have to face the hottest starting pitcher in baseball.
Through seven starts, Reds ace Johnny Cueto only has a 3-2 record but leads the Majors with a 1.31 ERA and a .132 opponent's batting average.
Cueto also has pitched eight or more innings in each of his last four appearances, including two complete games. During Saturday's 6-2 win over the Brewers, he allowed three hits over eight innings -- including two solo homers.
"I feel really strong," Cueto said. "I'm really healthy. I've been working for this."
Cincinnati will need Cueto to have a stopper performance after the Reds were swept Wednesday in a two-game series at Boston with a pair of one-run games. The high-octane Rockies are fresh off taking three of four games from the Rangers, with third baseman Nolan Arenado leading the way as he extended his hitting streak to a club-record 28 games.
Arenado started his trek to the record on April 9. He tied the mark set last season by Michael Cuddyer with a two-run double on Wednesday night. During the streak, Arenado, who went 1-for-4 Thursday night, is hitting .360 (40-of-111) with four home runs, 10 doubles and 19 RBIs.
Jhoulys Chacin will make his second start of the season for Colorado. Chacin made his debut Sunday, and it was a struggle as he appeared rusty. In a 5-1 loss to the Mets, he allowed four runs, eight hits and five walks.
"I wasn't finishing my pitches, and that's why my pitches were up and running away, mainly to lefties," Chacin said. "I allowed three runs the first three innings, then I had to just try to throw strikes. That was the problem, I wasn't throwing strikes and wasn't throwing the first pitch for a strike, either. So I had to throw something in the middle. Anybody can hit that.
"It was just one of those days. It was my first start. Just go get them next time."
The Rockies took two of three games from the Reds in both series last season.
Reds: Chapman back in the bullpen?
Over his past two rehab assignment games, closer Aroldis Chapman allowed eight earned runs and seven hits over a combined one inning for Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Reds were planning on activating Chapman from the disabled list for Friday's series opener, completing his comeback from a line drive to the face on March 19.
But a Friday return is not guaranteed.
"We want to get some feedback from the people that had a chance to see him," manager Bryan Price said. "He obviously wasn't terribly sharp. He got hit, walked a couple of guys, hit a guy, so it wasn't an excellent outing. We would like him, when we activate him, to be ready to go."
Rockies: Stubbs finding his stroke
When the Rockies began the year with six outfielders, right-handed-hitting Drew Stubbs spent many games simply hoping for playing time. Now, he has joined a team-wide hot streak.
Stubbs, a Reds center fielder from 2009-12 and their '06 first-round Draft pick, had multiple hits on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights against the Rangers. It was the first time he had three straight multihit games since last April 30 to May 2 for the Indians.
A ninth-inning, pinch-hit homer by Stubbs gave the Rockies a 5-4 victory over the D-backs on April 30. At the time, his batting average was .255. Following Thursday's 1-for-4 night, Stubbs' average was at .319.
"It's well-documented, that power and speed combination," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You watch him take batting practice and you see that raw power. Some of the balls, the home runs he's hit, he's crushed. That home run [Tuesday] night he hit went a long way. That ball he hit in Arizona went a long way.
"When they talk about Drew Stubbs, it's a very unique skill set."
• The Reds lead the Major Leagues with 11 one-run losses this season.