The Cubs went 5-4 over the past week and a half -- they won their first series of the season against the Brewers, and split the following two series against the Yankees and the Padres. Through Monday's game, the Cubs sit in last place, nine and a half games back of the division-leading Brewers.
Runs Scored: 30 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.33 | Runs Allowed: 29 | Runs Allowed per Game: 3.22
Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 0.88 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 0.94
The Three Most Important Plays
5/22 Top 4, man at first with no outs, 1-0 Padres: Anthony Rizzo homers off Eric Stults to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead, resulting in a .239 WPA. The Cubs had a 40.6% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 64.5% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/25 Top 6, bases empty with one out, 0-0 Tie: Junior Lake homers off Ian Kennedy to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead, resulting in a .198 WPA. The Cubs had an 46.9% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 66.7% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
5/25 Bot 6, men at first and second with two outs, 1-1 Tie: Carlos Quentin singles off James Russell to give the Padres a 2-1 lead, resulting in a -.196 WPA. The Cubs had a 43.8% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 24.2% chance of winning the game after his at bat.
Most Valuable Cub
Travis Wood: On the surface, Wood has struggled this season -- he surrendered twelve earned runs in his first two May starts and is currently posting his worst ERA (4.35) as a Cub. Look more closely, though, and you'll find signs that Wood is having an even better season than his last.
Wood's striking out more hitters (20.2%) and walking fewer hitters (7.5%) than last year (17.5% and 8.0%, respectively). Furthermore, Wood's inducing more ground balls (38.8% versus a previous high of 34.3%) and surrendering fewer fly balls (42.6% versus a pervious low of 43.9%) than he ever has. His 3.72 FIP/ 4.14 xFIP are the best he's had as a Cub and the second-best of his career (3.42 FIP/ 3.97 xFIP in a shortened rookie season).
Least Valuable Cub
Jose Veras: After surrendering the lead to the Yankees in the 13th inning, Veras struck out four in an 11-1 loss to the Padres. While Veras has generally struggled regardless of the game state, he has pitched incredibly poorly in high leverage situations this year: opponents are posting a .480 wOBA against him in these situations. Veras' performance is especially strange given his historical splits: in high leverage situations in 2013, 2012, and 2011 opponents posted a .298, .300, and .295 wOBA, respectively.
That said, we're still working with a small sample size here -- he has pitched 10 1/3 innings this year. While it's difficult to give a struggling pitcher additional playing time to work things out, the Cubs should continue to work Veras back into the bullpen by inserting him into lower leverage situations and then slowly ramping him back up to be able to pitch in more critical situations.
Up and Comers
The Cubs stay out west to continue their series against the Giants, and then head to Milwaukee for a weekend series against the Brewers.