The Cubs went 4-2 this week, taking two of three against both the Astros and the Pirates. This marked the first winning week the Cubs have had since the week of July 23rd. The Cubs' winning week allowed the Rockies to trim the Cubs' lead for the #2 pick in the 2013 draft to just half a game.
Runs Scored: 35 | Runs Scored per Game: 5.83 | Runs Allowed: 22 | Runs Allowed per Game: 3.67
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.27 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 0.95
It's not surprising that one of the first winning weeks in a while is a result of above average hitting and pitching. The Cubs were 27% better than the average offense and 5% better than the average pitching staff. The staff really pitched well against the Astros, but struggled with the Pirates. To sum up, the staff not only pitched better than the average staff, but also pitched better than they have in recent weeks. Cubs starters pitched 31⅓ of the 54 innings played this week, or 58% of the innings pitched, up from 59% last week.
The Three Most Important Plays
9/16 Bot 6, bases loaded with no outs, 9-6 Pirates: Anthony Rizzo hits a grand slam off Jared Hughes to give the Cubs the lead, resulting in a .365 WPA. The Cubs had a 38.3% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 74.8% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
9/15 Bot 9, bases loaded with 2 outs, 7-6 Pirates: Dave Sappelt strikes out against Joel Hanrahan, ending the threat and the game, and resulting in a -.265 WPA. The Cubs had a 26.5% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 0.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
9/11 Top 6, men at 2nd and 3rd base with 1 out, 1-0 Astros: Darwin Barney flies out against Mickey Storey, and Dave Sappelt is thrown out trying to advance to third, ending the rally and resulting in a -.223 WPA. The Cubs had a 48.1% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 25.9% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter
Anthony Rizzo: There isn't much more to say about Rizzo. He put together a huge performance on Sunday with his first multi-homer game and first grand slam of his career. The grand slam couldn't have come at a better time either, as the Cubs were down by three. After a scary incident on Tuesday in which he fell on his right shoulder, Rizzo seemed more than fine against the Pirates, picking up six hits and nine RBIs in the first three games of the weekend set with the last game to come Monday night. While he had a rough month of August, Rizzo has bounced back to post a .327/.411/.490 line thus far this month, setting up what could be a great end of the year run for the rookie first baseman.
While Rizzo hasn't displayed quite the same amount of power that he did in Triple-A -- I don't think many expected him to post a .696 SLG in the majors -- he has managed to cut down on his strikeout rate from 18.3% with Iowa this year to 15.9% with the major league team. It's also much better than the 30.1% he posted with the Padres in 2011.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher
Travis Wood: After a brutal stretch during which Wood lost eight consecutive games, he has managed to turn it around in his last two starts. Wood has given up only one run on nine base runners and struck out eleven in 13⅔ innings. Wood has now won two consecutive starts and has posted a 1.40 ERA in the month of September. Even if we look back a little further, Wood has pitched significantly better since his disastrous July. Aside from his one bad start against the Reds in August, Wood has pitched 51⅓ innings since the beginning of August and given up only 20 runs, which is good for a 3.50 ERA.
A strong finish by Wood would be great news for a projected 2013 rotation that features Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija as the only two locks thus far.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter
Steve Clevenger: I'd like to see Anthony Recker get a few more games in before the end of the season. Though I'd like it even more if Welington Castillo caught more than 2/3 of the games going forward. I still don't understand why Castillo isn't starting more frequently. I hope Clevenger doesn't become the next Koyie HIll, who started way too many games under the Mike Quade regime.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher
Jason Berken: While Berken suffered from some bad luck in his Cubs debut, he didn't help his case by striking out only two batters in his four innings. His inability to put hitters away allowed them to extend their at bats and get on base. Berken reached a two-strike count on seven batters, and only struck out two of them. Another outing like this and it may be time to reactivate Brooks Raley -- at least he's only 24 and can still be considered a prospect.
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 Dale Sveum's tenure thus far.
The Cubs will finish their four-game series with the Pirates tonight and will then host the Reds and Cardinals. Go Cubs!