The Cubs went 1-5 this past week - they were swept by the Braves, before losing a rain-shortened series to the Cardinals. As of Thursday, the Cubs sat in last place, twelve games back of the division-leading Brewers.
Runs Scored: 27 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.50 | Runs Allowed: 24 | Runs Allowed per Game: 4.00
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.30 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.16
The Three Most Important Plays
5/13 Top 9, men at first and second with two outs, 3-2 Cardinals: Emilio Bonifacio singles off Trevor Rosenthal to tie the game, resulting in a .369 WPA. The Cubs had a 12.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 49.6% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/9 Top 9, man on second with one out, 2-1 Braves: Ryan Kalish singles off Craig Kimbrel to tie the game, resulting in a .350 WPA. The Cubs had an 8.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 43.7% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/9 Bot 3, men at second and third with two outs, 1-0 Cubs: Chris Johnson singles off Jason Hammel to give the Braves the lead, resulting in a -.228 WPA. The Cubs had a 56.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 34.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub
Starlin Castro: By WAR, Castro (1.3 WAR) is the fourth best shortstop in the majors at this point in the season - Erick Aybar and Jhonny Peralta are both slightly ahead (1.5 WAR), while Troy Tulowitzki is the clear gold-standard this year (3.7 WAR) on pace for an MVP-like season.
There are two very encouraging signs about Castro's progression: his newfound power and his defense. Castro's hitting for more power (.475 SLG% and .179 ISO) while still striking out as frequently as he did during his rookie season (13.4%). Additionally, for the first time in his career, Castro is rated above average on both offense and defense per FanGraphs. While it's still early to say, it looks like Castro is back on track after taking a few steps back over the last two seasons.
Least Valuable Cubs
The Bullpen: In the four innings that they pitched, Justin Grimm and Wesley Wright essentially lost the equivalent of an entire game as their cumulative Win Probability Added (WPA) was -.932 this week.
The inconstancy of the bullpen is maddening - earlier in the season, Grimm and Rondon were the ones getting outs, and while Rondon is still pitching well Grimm has struggled since the start of May. Six of the seven earned runs Grimm has surrendered have come in May, and that's all in 7⅓ innings of work. The current crop of relievers I'd like to see in high leverage situations are Neil Ramirez and Rondon, but at this rate, that'll likely change in two weeks.
Up and Comers
The Cubs will finish up their series Sunday against the Brewers after splitting the first two games, followed by a two game series against the Yankees.