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Cubs Weekly Recap: April 4 Through April 10

The Cubs offense provided plenty of excitement, but the bullpen just couldn't close out games.

Brian Kersey

The Cubs went 2-4 this past week, losing two of three to both the Phillies and the Pirates. The Cubs currently sit in a tie for fourth place, four games back of the division-leading Brewers.

Runs Scored: 27 | Runs Scored per Game: 4.50 | Runs Allowed: 29 | Runs Allowed per Game: 4.83

Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 1.15 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.25

The Three Most Important Plays

4/10 Top 7, men on first and second with two outs, 4-2 Cubs: Pedro Alvarez homers off James Russell to give the Pirates the lead, resulting in a -.488 WPA. The Cubs had an 82.9% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 34.1% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

4/10 Bot 9, bases loaded with two outs, 5-4 Pirates: Jason Grilli gets Emilio Bonifacio to ground out to end the game, resulting in a -.268 WPA. The Cubs had a 26.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 0.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

4/9 Top 5, man at 1st with two outs, 1-1 tie Mike Olt hits a towering two-run homer off Wandy Rodriguez to give the Cubs the lead, resulting in a .264 WPA. The Cubs had a 53.1% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 79.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

Most Valuable Cub

Starlin Castro: This may have been the best six-game stretch that Castro has had since the beginning of the 2013 season. Not only did Castro reach base in nearly 50 percent of his plate appearances, but he also hit for power and made a couple of outstanding plays in the field.

While it could be a confluence of factors, one interesting explanation stems from the number of pitches Starlin sees per plate appearance (P/PA). In his first three seasons with the Cubs, he saw 3.58 P/PA; that number jumped to 3.85 P/PA last year. While that could have been a coincidence, it was likely a change in approach: coaches could have been trying to help Castro develop patience at the plate. In the nine games that he’s played thus far, he’s seeing 3.57 P/PA, which is in line with his pre-2013 average. If this lasts, it may be part of the reason for Castro’s resurgence.

Least Valuable Cub

The Bullpen: The Cubs had a better than 80 percent chance of winning when Travis Wood exited the game on Thursday, and the bullpen promptly served up four runs, and the game, to the Pirates.

Unfortunately, the damage wasn’t simply limited to that one game – the bullpen surrendered more runs (12) than the starters (ex. Edwin Jackson) did (10), despite pitching 13 fewer innings. Even Russell, who proved to be a somewhat reliable pitcher over the past couple of years, has struggled mightily over the early part of the season. Between Russell and Wesley Wright, manager Rick Renteria doesn’t have a lefty who he can rely on in high leverage situations, which makes getting hitters like Pedro Alvarez out much more difficult.

Starting next week, I’ll be including a couple of graphs on how the Cubs' top hitting and pitching prospects are performing over the course of the season.

Up Next

The Cubs head to St. Louis for three games against the Cardinals before heading to play a quick two-game set against the Yankees in New York.

Competition Adjusted figures are based on last year’s runs scored and runs allowed. This will be the methodology for the first month given the small sample size of games that we currently have.