Cubs Weekly Recap: May 26 Through June 1

Mike McGinnis

The Cubs finally get Jeff Samardzija his first win of the season.

The Cubs went 2-4 over the past week -- losing series against both the Giants and the Brewers. As of Tuesday morning, the Cubs sat in last place, thirteen games back of the division-leading Brewers.

Runs Scored: 21 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.50 | Runs Allowed: 33 | Runs Allowed per Game: 5.50

Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 0.97 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.28

The Three Most Important Plays

5/26 Bot 4, man at 1st with no outs, 1-1 Tie: Pablo Sandoval homers off Jeff Samardzija to give the Giants a 3-1 lead, resulting in a -.208 WPA. The Cubs had a 40.0% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 19.2% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

5/31 Top 4, man at 2nd with one out, 0-0 Tie: Anthony Rizzo homers off Wily Peralta to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead, resulting in a .198 WPA. The Cubs had a 52.3% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 72.1% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

5/26 Top 5, man at 1st with two outs, 3-2 Giants: Jeff Samardzija doubles off Yusmeiro Petit to tie the game, resulting in a .177 WPA. The Cubs had a 30.7% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 48.4% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

Most Valuable Cub

Anthony Rizzo: After a rough start to the week, in which he stuck out five times in three games, Rizzo busted out of his slump with a two homer game on Saturday. Rizzo's .198 ISO (SLG% - AVG = ISO) is the highest of his career, and has been trending upwards ever since his rookie season.

Rizzo's .378 wOBA is the 25th best mark in the majors -- on par with Joey Votto (.383), Jose Abreu (.383), and Paul Goldschmidt (.374) -- and 9th among first basemen. In fact, Rizzo's on pace for a 3.9 WAR season, which is well north of the 1.6 WAR he posted last year and All-Star caliber. After taking a step backward, Rizzo is reemerging as a key member of the Cubs' young core.

Least Valuable Cub

Jeff Samardzija: After picking up his first win of the season on Memorial Day, Samardzija was shelled for eight runs in three innings against the Brewers. Even during dominant seasons, there are bound to be one or two games where a combination of bad luck and a lack of stuff get a pitcher into trouble, and Sunday seemed to be that kind of day for Samardzija; therefore, let's leave that start aside and look at his start against the Giants, and particularly his ability to induce swinging strikes.

Against the Giants, Samardzija was able to generate a swinging strike on nearly one out of every five swings (17.4%). In the past two years as a starter, Samardzija has eclipsed that swinging strike rate in only four starts. While his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate have both fallen this year, we can see that it isn't because of his stuff -- he can still generate swinging strikes at a very high rate when he wants to -- but rather because of a concerted effort to pitch to contact in an attempt to go deeper in games.

Up and Comers

Up Next

The Cubs host the Mets for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night, and then the Marlins come to Wrigley for a three-game set starting Friday.

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