The Cubs went 4-2 last week. The team swept the rain-shortened series against the White Sox, and managed to win only one game against the Diamondbacks. After last week, the Cubs are in fourth place -- the team is two games ahead of the Brewers and thirteen and a half games behind the Cardinals.
Runs Scored: 39 | Runs Scored per Game: 6.50 | Runs Allowed: 27 | Runs Allowed per Game: 4.50
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.64 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.12
The Cubs were 64% better than the average offense and 12% worse than the average pitching staff. The offense played extremely well against two very good pitching staffs -- the White Sox and the Diamondbacks are both in the top third of the league in run prevention. While the pitching staff pitched very well during the first four games of the week, the staff surrendered twenty runs in the last two games of the week, ruining what could have been a five- or six-win week.
Cubs starters pitched 40 of the 54 innings played this week, or 74% of the innings pitched, which is up from last week's 60%, and higher than the major league average of approximately 69%.
The Three Most Important Plays
6/1 Top 7, bases loaded with two outs, 3-1 Cubs: Jason Kubel doubles off James Russell to give the Diamondbacks the lead, resulting in a -.460 WPA. The Cubs had a 77.5% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 31.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
6/1 Top 8, bases loaded with one out, 4-4 Tie: Paul Goldschmidt hits a grand slam off Carlos Marmol, resulting in a -.282 WPA. The Cubs had a 31.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 3.6% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
6/2 Bot 5, man at 2nd base with two outs, 4-2 Diamondbacks: Scott Hairston hits a two-run home run off Patrick Corbin, resulting in a .261 WPA. The Cubs had a 25.4% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 51.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter
Scott Hairston: After struggling mightily for most of the season, Hairston started to show us what he's capable of this past week. He belted two home runs in the series against the Diamondbacks: a grand slam that broke the game wide open on Friday, and a two-run home run that tied the game on Sunday.
Looking at Hairston's season line, it's quite obvious that he's been suffering from very bad luck as his BABIP is at an unsustainably low .125. Hairston's career BABIP sits at .273, and ZiPS expects him to post a .257 BABIP and a .314 wOBA over the course of the rest of the season. While this is still a far cry from his .342 wOBA season from last year, a regression to the mean will be a lot better than what it was looking like.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher
Jeff Samardzija: Samardzija was brilliant this past week against the White Sox, throwing his first career shutout, and two-hitting the Sox on 108 pitches. As I mentioned last week, 108 pitches used to get Samardzija into the sixth inning of a game, but lately, Samardzija seems like he's been able to improve his pitch efficiency. Prior to his start against the Diamondbacks, Samardzija threw 334 pitches to complete 24 innings, which is 13.91 pitches per inning.
While his start against the Diamondbacks wasn't nearly as good, he still got into the seventh inning relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, James Russell's inability to finish the inning tagged on a couple of extra runs onto Samardzija's line. Still, Samardzija had yet another strong week, and he is slowly cementing himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League -- according to FanGraphs' WAR, Samardzija has been the fifth-best pitcher in the National League. Furthermore, ZiPS expects Samardzija to finish the season with a 4.5 WAR, significantly higher than its preseason prediction of 3.1 WAR.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter
Welington Castillo: Despite his incredibly high .354 BABIP, Castillo has only hit to the tune of an 85 wRC+, which indicates that he has hit fifteen percent below league average. While it may not be fair to compare a catcher with the rest of the league, given their other responsibilities, Castillo's .299 wOBA is in the bottom half of the National League catchers list of catchers with over 100 plate appearances. If this continues, Castillo will have taken a step back from his promising 2012 season.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher
Edwin Jackson: It's getting harder to preach patience with Jackson, especially when almost-Cub Anibal Sanchez is second in all of baseball in WAR. Jackson continues to underperform his luck-neutral stats. His FIP and xFIP are at a very healthy 3.65 and 3.73 respectively, but Jackson has been the unluckiest starter in baseball by LOB% and the fourth unluckiest by BABIP. Furthermore, Jackson is posting his best strikeout rate of his career this year. That said, he is also surrendering nearly four walks per nine innings, which is both dangerous and uncharacteristic of him.
Jackson has had a history of underperforming his luck-neutral stats. Over the past three years prior to this one, Jackson's ERA has been higher than both his FIP and xFIP. Whether this is just a prolonged streak of bad luck or an actual trend is hard to tell. That said, it will get better, we just have to be patient.
After a day off Monday, the Cubs head to Anaheim to play two against the Angels. After another day off on Thursday to travel back from California, the Cubs come back home to play a three-game set against the Pirates.