Brett Jackson of the Chicago Cubs hits a solo home run against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Rockies 5-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Cubs went 2-4 this week; they were swept by the Brewers, and won two of three from the Rockies. The Cubs now stand two games ahead of the Rockies for the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. While Josh Vitters hit his first major-league home run, he continued to struggle. Brooks Raley and Brett Jackson both showed signs of improvement this past week, and Chris Rusin pitched a good game in his major-league debut. While the wins were hard to come by this week, there were definitely some positive signs regarding the future of the team.
Runs Scored: 22 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.67 | Runs Allowed: 24 | Runs Allowed per Game: 4.00
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: .72 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: .87
The Cubs were essentially 28% worse than the average offense and 13% better than the average pitching staff. As we can see from these adjusted metrics, the offense was the issue this week. Aside from the one bad game against the Brewers on Monday, the pitching staff fared quite well in the other five games, giving up a total of 15 runs during this stretch. Cubs starters pitched 35⅓ of the 54 innings played this week, or 65% of the innings pitched. That's slightly up from last week's 62%.
The Three Most Important Plays
8/24 Bot 8, bases empty with no outs, 3-2 Rockies: Brett Jackson homers off Matt Belisle to tie the game, resulting in a .311 WPA. The Cubs had a 29.2% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 60.3% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
8/24 Bot 8, man at 2nd base with one out, 3-3 Tie: Joe Mather singles off Matt Belisle to give the Cubs the lead, resulting in a .224 WPA. The Cubs had a 65.0% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and an 87.4% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
8/20 Bot 5, men at 1st and 3rd base with 2 outs, 3-3 Tie: Corey Hart singles off Justin Germano to give the Brewers the lead, resulting in a -.221 WPA. The Cubs had a 40.6% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and an 18.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter*
Brett Jackson: After going hitless against the Brewers, Jackson had a couple of timely hits against the Rockies. He was essentially the hero of games 1 and 2 of the Rockes series, as he clubbed a home run in each game -- the first one to tie it in the bottom of the 8th, and the next one to extend the Cubs lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning. While Jackson did strike out in a third of his plate appearances, he walked five times this week. Jackson got on base in 9 of his 21 plate appearances, which is significantly better than the numbers he has been posting. If you look at just the Rockies series, Jackson went 4 for 10 with three walks and three extra-base hits. Here's to hoping that it's a sign of his development.
Jackson's recent performance may also make it easier for Theo and Jed to consider trading David DeJesus -- with the Dodgers adding another set of reinforcements, the Giants are likely making calls to explore as many potential upgrades as possible prior to the end of the month.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Chris Volstad: It has been quite the journey for Volstad. After starting the season 0-9 with four no decisions, Volstad finally posted his first win in a Cubs uniform. Looking at his month-by-month breakdown, Volstad is actually pitching relatively well this month. A quick glance suggests that the biggest difference may be his K/BB ratio. Here is a comparison of his ERA by month and his K/BB ratio by month.
While it's nice to see him get his first win, Volstad still has a lot of work to do over the course of the last few weeks of the season to show management that he's a competent major league starter who can be counted on for next year. The recent uptick in his K/BB ratio may be just what he needs to turn his season around.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter*
Steve Clevenger: Clevenger began the season on a tear. In the month of April, he posted a .500/.522/.727 line in 23 plate appearances. While we knew that it was a small sample size at the time, I was under the impression that Clevenger might have had a good chance of taking Geovany Soto's everyday job. I was dead wrong.
After missing a little over a month due to an oblique strain, Clevenger collected two hits, including a double in his first game back to raise his season line to .500/.519/.731. That was as of May 30. Since June 1, Clevenger has struggled mightily, posting a .170/.238/.222 line. That's approaching Koyie Hill territory. While this may have been the result of his injury, Clevenger's true talent level is much closer to what we've seen over the past couple of months than what we saw in his first 27 plate appearances. Luckily, Welington Castillo has been developing into a good, everyday catcher, (that statement might be premature given the fact that Castillo only has 90 plate appearances this year). Without him, we may have had to witness a slightly better version of Koyie Hill for the majority of the rest of the season.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher*
Justin Germano: Germano had his worst outing of the year this week against the Brewers. It all got away from him in the fifth inning, when he gave up four hits, a walk, and four runs before being pulled in favor of Jeff Beliveau. Unfortunately, Beliveau came in and gave up a three-run home run to Jonathan Lucroy with two of the three runs going to Germano's line. One bad inning shouldn't drastically change our opinion of a pitcher who has thus far pitched fairly well. Remember, prior to that one inning, Germano had an ERA around 4.00 in his five previous starts. It will be interesting to see how Germano fares over his next couple of outings -- was it just one bad inning or was it a sign of things to come?
Please do keep the managerial decision comments coming - I think they're a great way to keep up to date on how people feel about Sveum's tenure thus far.
Milwaukee will be in town for a four game set starting tonight. The Cubs will then welcome the Giants for a three game series. Go Cubs!
* The WPA for most and least valuable Cubs is the cumulative WPA over the course of the week.