The Cubs went 4-2 this week against a trio of very good teams. The team won a makeup game against the Rangers, split a two-game series against the Cardinals, and won two out of three in Washington against the Nationals. Unfortunately, the Cubs are still in last place, eight and a half games behind the Cardinals.
Runs Scored: 28 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.67 | Runs Allowed: 18 | Runs Allowed per Game: 3.00
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.28 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 0.78
The Cubs were 28% better than the average offense and 22% better than the average pitching staff. The offense played well considering that it went up against two of the best pitching staffs in the game in the Rangers and Cardinals staffs. The bullpen blew another game this week, but pitched well relative to the past month.
Cubs starters pitched 36⅔ of the 53 innings played this week, or 69% of the innings pitched, which is up from last week's 68%, and higher than last year's average of 60%.
The Three Most Important Plays
5/8 Bot 8, men at 1st and 3rd with one out, 5-4 Cardinals: Nate Schierholtz grounded into a double play against Randy Choate to end the Cubs scoring threat, resulting in a -.327 WPA. The Cubs had a 48.5% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 15.8% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/12 Top 9, men at 1st and 2nd with one out, 1-1 Tie: Alfonso Soriano scores on an error by Kurt Suzuki to give the Cubs the lead, resulting in a .309 WPA. The Cubs had a 58.2% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and an 89.1% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/7 Bot 4, man at 1st base with two outs, 1-0 Cardinals: Nate Schierholtz hits a home run off Lance Lynn, resulting in a .269 WPA. The Cubs had a 38.6% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 65.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub Hitter
Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo reached base nearly 50 percent of the time this week, and clubbed three more extra base hits bringing his season total to 19 extra base hits, which is good for second in the National League. After suffering from an anemic BABIP, Rizzo's numbers have begun to climb as his BABIP has risen to a more natural level. His BABIP currently stands at .323, which is slightly higher than last year's .310 mark.
Over nearly the first quarter of the season, Rizzo's .266 ISO and .393 wOBA are both well above his performance from last year. For reference, Joey Votto's wOBA currently sits at .400 -- Rizzo has almost been as good as Votto has at the plate this year. At this pace, ZiPS expects Rizzo to post a 3.7 WAR season, which would be a great sophomore season for the young first baseman.
Most Valuable Cub Pitcher
Scott Feldman: Feldman continued his streak of great starts. Not only did he limit the Rangers to two hits in seven innings, but he also surrendered only one earned run over the course of the thirteen innings he pitched overall last week. While a large amount of Feldman's early season successes (the games against Milwaukee and Miami) were a result of good luck, his past three outings suggest that he may be having more than just a few lucky starts. His 8.59 K/9 rate and 2.04 BB/9 rate are well above and below his career norms respectively. However, Feldman's extremely low BABIP -- now .206 -- will continue to be a concern.
Least Valuable Cub Hitter
Welington Castillo: Since his 2 for 4 performance on May 2 against the Padres, Castillo has recorded three singles in 25 at-bats. To make matters worse, Castillo's struggles with runners in scoring position continued. Not only does he sport a .268 wOBA with runners in scoring position, but he also struggles with situational hitting: Castillo, yet again, failed to bring in a runner from third with less than two outs by popping out in the ninth inning of Sunday's game.
Least Valuable Cub Pitcher
Jeff Samardzija: Samardzija pitched arguably his worst game of the season this past week, surrendering five earned runs in five innings. This would have been somewhat understandable had he been facing a quality offensive team, but the Nationals rank 26th in runs scored this year and were without Bryce Harper on that day. That said, Samardzija was a little unlucky as a high number of balls in play fell in for hits.
Despite his poor start and his recent pitch count struggles, Samardzija's 3.70/3.30/3.21 ERA/FIP/xFIP line thus far this season is better than the one (3.81/3.55/3.38 ERA/FIP/xFIP) he posted last season. Furthermore, he's inducing ground balls at a career-high 50% rate and striking out batters at a career-high 27.7% rate. Finally, the latest ZiPS projection expects Samardzija to post a 3.9 WAR season, which would be significantly better than the 2.9 WAR season he posted last year.
The Cubs head home to play two three-game series: one against the Rockies, followed by another against the Mets.