After a dismal 4-12 start to the season, the Cubs finished April winning 4 out of 7 with an 8-15 record. Last place in NL Central (6.5 games behind STL), 12th out of 13 in Wild Card (6 games behind Atlanta).
Team ERA at 4.21 (21st in MLB) with a 1.32 WHIP (18th in MLB). As expected, the bullpen is what's killing Cubs pitching, 4.19 ERA, 1.51 WHIP. Starters: 3.73 ERA, 1.14 WHIP. Even though James Russell has a 0.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP in 7.2 IP, Kerry Wood has an 11.57 ERA, 2.57 WHIP in 2.1 IP. Lendy Castillo isn't too far behind with a 7.94 ERA, 1.94 WHIP in 5.2 IP. Carlos Marmol is 1-for-3 in save opportunities. Marmol has 9 walks and only 6 strikeouts which gives him a 2.09 WHIP and a 5.87 ERA in 7.2 IP. Lets just say that doesn't make the cut for a closing pitcher. Matt Garza has pitched 33.2 innings and has allowed only 10 walks, which is only one more than Marmol.
Speaking of Garza, he is second in starting pitching ERA of 2.67, 0.89 WHIP and an opponent BA of .175 in 33.2 IP. The only other starter with a better ERA and opponent BA is Dempster: 1.33, .157, and 0.93 WHIP. Jeff Samardzija had an excellent first start, then a bad outing, and went back to excellent in his last two starts in April. However, because of his one bad outing, his ERA in April is 4.13, 1.42 WHIP in 24 IP.
As for Cubs hitting, the man with the best batting average, despite only 22 at-bats, is Steve Clevenger (.500 BA). Out of his 11 hits, he has 5 doubles, and 2 RBI. Personally, I really like what I've seen from Clevenger. He still has some work to do with his arm on throws down to second base, but he's been hitting the ball. The batter of the month is Bryan LaHair. He leads the "regular" starters in these categories: .390 AVG, 5 HR, 8 doubles, 14 RBI (tied with Castro), 10 walks (tied with DeJesus), .471 OBP, .780 SLG, and 1.251 OPS in 59 at-bats. However, he leads the team with 25 strikeouts. Now the question is, what happens to LaHair when the Cubs are ready to call-up hot hitting Anthony Rizzo? Would it be best to put LaHair in left field and sit Soriano?
To make a better case for Steve Clevenger's playing time, Geovany Soto has the lowest batting average out of the regular 8 position players with .127. The only other regular starter with a lower number is Marlon Byrd, but I excluded him because he got traded during April. Out of 55 at-bats Soto has 7 hits, 1 double, 1 triple (!), 1 home run, 1 RBI, 7 walks, and 13 strike outs.
Here are the top 5 Win Probability Added Cubs plays from April:
4.) Mon 4/30 at PHI (L 4-6): Top 8, Cubs trail 2-4, 1 out, runner on 1st base. Bryan LaHair hits a 2-run home run to deep right-center field off Chad Qualls. Starlin Castro scores and the game is tied at 4. Win Probability Added: 32%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 45%.
3.) Tue 4/24 vs. STL (W 3-2 in 10 innings): Bottom 10, score tied at 2, 2 out, runners on first and second. Alfonso Soriano hits a ground ball single past the second baseman off Fernando Salas. Tony Campana scores and the Cubs win 3-2. WPA: 39%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 100%.
2.) Tue 4/24 vs. STL (W 3-2 in 10 innings): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 1-2, 0 out, bases empty. Bryan LaHair hits a solo home run to deep left-center field off Marc Rzepczynski. WPA: 44%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 63%.
1.) Mon 4/23 vs. STL (W 3-2): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 1-2, 2 out, runners on second and third, 2-2 count. Joe Mather hits a ground ball single to center field off Jason Motte. Bryan LaHair scores, Geovany Soto scores and the Cubs win 3-2. WPA: 77%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 100%.
Here are the bottom 5 Win Probability Subtracted Cubs plays from April:
5.) Thu 4/5 vs. WSH (L 1-2): Bottom 9, Cubs trail 1-2, 1 out, runner on third. Jeff Baker hits into a 5-2 fielder's choice off Brad Lidge; Joe Mather out at home plate. Win Probability Subtracted: 31%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 9%.
4.) Mon 4/30 at PHI (L 4-6): Bottom 8, game tied at 4, 2 out, runners on first and third. Placido Polanco hits a line drive double to deep LF off Rafael Dolis. Juan Pierre scores, Jimmy Rollins scores and the Phillies lead 6-4. Win Probability Subtracted: 34%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 6%.
3.) Thu 4/5 vs. WSH (L 1-2): Top 9, game tied at 1, 2 out, runner on second. Ian Desmond hits a line drive single to short RF off Carlos Marmol. Brett Carroll scores and the Nationals lead 2-1. WPS: 36%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 17%.
2.) Sat 4/7 vs. WSH (L 4-7): Top 8, Cubs lead 4-3, 2 out, bases loaded. Chad Tracy hits a 2-2 pitch for a ground ball single to RF off Carlos Marmol. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche scores. Jayson Werth to third base and the Nationals lead 5-4. WPS: 46%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 24%.
1.) Tue 4/24 vs. STL (W 3-2 in 10 innings): Top 8, Cubs lead 1-0, 2 out, runner on first. Matt Holliday hits a 2-2 pitch to deep CF for a 2-run home-run off Carlos Marmol. Rafael Furcal scores and the Cardinals lead 2-1. WPS: 54%. Cubs Win Expectancy: 28%.