The Cubs posted a 2-5 record this past week. While they showed flashes of being a competent team - winning consecutive games against pitchers who have recently won the Cy Young award - the bullpen couldn't keep a couple of the games close, and the lineup couldn't put enough runs together for the Cubs to win any more than the two that they did.
Runs Scored: 31 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.42 | Runs Allowed: 36 | Runs Allowed per Game: 5.14
The Cubs scored three runs or less in three of their seven games, and four runs or less in four of their seven games this past week. They surrendered five runs or more in five of their seven games this past week.
The Three Most Important Plays
4/11 Top 7, 1-0 Cubs, man at 2nd base with 1 out: George Kottaras homered off Ryan Dempster scoring the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a .-345 WPA. The Cubs had a 66.5% chance of winning the game prior to the at bat, and a 32.0% chance of winning the game after the at bat.
4/9 Top 6, 3-3 Tie, man at 1st base with no outs: Mat Gamel triples on a fly ball to right field off Shawn Camp to bring in the go-ahead run, resulting in a -.224 WPA. The Cubs had a 44.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 22.3% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
4/9 Bot 9, 7-5 Brewers, men at 1st and 2nd base with 1 out: Steve Clevenger singles to left; Soto scores, Byrd advances to 3rd, and Clevenger advances to 2nd on an error by Carlos Gomez, resulting in a .183 WPA. In other words, we had a 9.6% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 27.9% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter*
Steve Clevenger: Clevenger's fantastic play has caused many of us to wonder why he's not in the lineup more frequently. While it's definitely important to give Soto some time to rebound, I would like to see Clevenger get the chance to catch two to three games this week.
Bryan LaHair: LaHair hit a tape measure shot at Wrigley against the Brewers, and followed that up with a grand slam off Adam Wainwright in St. Louis. Just as importantly, LaHair showed some patience at the plate - taking three walks in 21 plate appearances, a very healthy 14.2% walk rate.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Matt Garza: Garza was incredible on Thursday, and has been very good thus far this season. In the 14.2 innings that he's pitched, he's essentially thrown one bad pitch to Adam LaRoche. His start has even inspired someone on FanGraphs to label him a "Legitimate Number One Starter." While that's obviously an opinion, it's one that a lot of people here seem opposed to. Here's to hoping he proves his naysayers wrong.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter*
Marlon Byrd: There isn't much to say about Byrd. He struggled mightily this week, and didn't really show any signs of improvement. While I would like to see Mather or Johnson get more time in the outfield, we need Byrd to start hitting if we want him to have any trade value whatsoever. I'd give Byrd another week or so before I consider putting Mather or Johnson in.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Paul Maholm: Maholm had a couple of rough outings this past week. The majority of his issues seemed to stem from his inability to throw strikes. Thus far, Maholm has thrown 43.6% of pitches in the zone, which is significantly lower than his career mark of 50.2%. Maholm got behind way too many hitters and just didn't seem to have the stuff to generate swings-and-misses or even weak contact.
Shawn Camp: Camp's most important outing of the week came in Monday's game against Milwaukee. Camp came in with the game tied in the 6th inning only to give up two runs in that inning, and one in the seventh.
Best Managerial Decision
I pored through this week's game logs a couple of times, but couldn't really find anything worthy of a very good managerial decision. That said, the aggressiveness that the Cubs have shown on the basepaths is refreshing. The Cubs converted on four of their six steal attempts this past week, and have eight steals in eleven attempts this year. What's even more exciting are the opportunistic plays that the Cubs are making on the bases. In the second inning of Saturday's game, Soriano advanced to second on a fly ball hit by Ian Stewart to deep center field. This is one aspect of the game that Sveum really seems to have affected.
Worst Managerial Decision
Putting Shawn Camp into the 6th inning of Monday's tie game. Sveum could have gone to a number of more reliable relievers: Wood, Dolis, or Russell. While it isn't his fault that Shawn Camp is on the roster, he should have used one of his better relievers to keep the game tied. Instead, he put Camp in and watched as the game turned from a 3-3 game to a 3-6 game.
* The WPA for most and least valuable Cubs is the cumulative WPA over the course of the week.