Cubs Weekly Recap: April 8 Through April 14

Brian Kersey

Though they could have gone 4-2 this week, the Cubs instead went 2-4 after the bullpen struggled mightily.

The Cubs went 2-4 last week, but could have done significantly better if the bullpen had been able to close out a couple of games. The team split the two games against the Brewers and lost three of four to the Giants. After the first two weeks of the season, the Cubs find themselves in fourth place, trailing the division-leading Cardinals by three and a half games.

Runs Scored: 29 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.83 | Runs Allowed: 33 | Runs Allowed per Game: 5.50

Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.06 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.33

The Cubs were 6% better than the average offense and 33% worse than the average pitching staff. However, this is all based on a small sample size, and can thus be quite skewed. The offense looked much better this week, scoring runs against one of the better pitching staffs in the game. The pitching staff on the other hand fared much worse this week. Between Jackson's rough starts and the bullpen's continued struggles, the Cubs staff surrendered over five runs per game. Cubs starters pitched 35⅓ of the 55 innings played this week, or 64% of the innings pitched, which is down from last week's 72%, but still higher than last year's average of 60%.

The Three Most Important Plays
4/12 Top 9, men at 1st and 3rd with two outs, 2-1 Cubs: Brandon Belt hits a double off Kyuji Fujikawa to give the Giants the lead, resulting in a -.672 WPA. The Cubs had a 83.9% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 16.7% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

4/12 Bot 9, bases empty with no outs, 3-2 Giants: Dioner Navarro hits a pinch-hit game-tying home run off Sergio Romo, resulting in a .440 WPA. The Cubs had a 19.4% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 63.4% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

4/12 Bot 9, man at 1st base with two outs, 3-3 Tie: Starlin Castro hits a game-winning double off Sergio Romo, resulting in a .438 WPA. The Cubs had a 56.2% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 100.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

Most Valuable Cub Hitters

David DeJesus: After a slow start to his season, DeJesus looked much better this week. He worked deep counts and hit the ball with much more authority than he did during the first week of the season. DeJesus reached base in nearly half of his at bats this week while also collecting several extra-base hits.

Dioner Navarro: Navarro hit pinch-hit home runs -- one from each side of the plate -- in consecutive games, the first of which tied the game in the bottom of the ninth after Kyuji Fujikawa blew the save. That first home run prevented the Cubs from blowing two consecutive games in which they had sizable or late-game leads.

Starlin Castro: Castro had the huge game-winning hit off Romo on Friday, one day after striking out against Romo on a slider well off the plate. Besides that, Castro had a very productive week at the plate, collecting eleven hits in six games, six of which went for extra bases.

Nate Schierholtz: Schierholtz has been fantastic over the first two weeks of the season, and is currently sporting a .343/.410/.629 line for a team-best 1.039 OPS and .438 wOBA. He has had a number of timely hits: hitting a double off John Axford on Tuesday to start the game-winning 8th inning rally and a home run off Tim Lincecum in the first inning of Sunday's game to give the Cubs the early 4-1 lead.

Most Valuable Cub Pitcher

Carlos Villanueva: Though he is officially the Cubs' No. 5 starter, Villanueva has pitched as if he is a top-of-the-rotation stater in his first two outings of the season. After throwing 6 innings of one-run ball against the Braves in Atlanta -- thus far the best offensive team in baseball -- Villanueva followed it up with 7⅓ innings of shutout baseball against the Giants on Friday, outpitching Matt Cain in the process. Villanueva has only surrendered one earned run in fourteen innings of work and has a 0.64/3.53/3.79 ERA/FIP/xFIP line.

Least Valuable Cub Hitter

Welington Castillo: By simply looking at the numbers, we could conclude that Castillo had a good offensive week: he clubbed a home run and posted an OPS near .900. However, Castillo had a couple of chances to score runners from third with less than two outs on Saturday and failed to do so both times. He struck out against Bumgarner in the second inning with runners at second and third and no one out and then followed that up with a double play against Santiago Casilla in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and one out. If Castillo had hit a fly ball in either situation, the game could have turned out differently. Instead, the Cubs ended up losing the game by one run.

Least Valuable Cub Pitchers

Kyuji Fujikawa: After posting a couple of good appearances against the Pirates, Fujikawa has struggled mightily to get hitters out. In his three appearances since the Pirates series, Fujikawa has surrendered eight hits and six earned runs in three innings of work. During one of the games, Jim Deshaies mentioned Fujikwawa's control issues: in his two appearances this week, Fujikawa threw 28 strikes and 24 balls, which is good for a 54% strike rate. Let's hope that his struggles were injury-related.

Shawn Camp: After posting a good season with the Cubs last year, Camp has struggled recently. In his three appearances this week, Camp surrendered eight hits and six earned runs, blowing a save and recording a loss in Sunday's game against the Giants. Without a repeat of Camp's successful 2012 campaign, the Cubs are essentially left with one consistent and reliable reliever: James Russell.

Up Next
Beginning Tuesday, the Cubs play three games against the Rangers at Wrigley and Friday, they start a 10-game road trip by visiting the Brewers for a three-game set at Miller Park.

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