Yesterday, we looked at Cub hitters in April. And if you missed it, click here for more of the pretext for this five-part series (and all the articles are in this StoryStream).
The prevailing thought is that pitchers are ahead of hitters earlier in the season. Combine that with cold weather and scoring is usually suppressed.
So let's look at how the NL playoff teams and the Cubs have fared in April runs allowed the last three years (runs allowed, NL rank out of 15 the last two years and out of 16 in 2012, run differential):
2014: St. Louis Cardinals (91, 2nd, +14), San Francisco Giants (102, 4th, +18), Washington Nationals (108, T-7th, +18), Chicago Cubs (108, T-7th, -9), Los Angeles Dodgers (110, 11th, +11), Pittsburgh Pirates (115, 12th, -13)
2013: Atlanta Braves (85, 1st, +29), St. Louis (95, 2nd, +26), Cincinnati Reds (106, 3rd, +22), Cubs (113, 5th, -15), Pittsburgh (114, 6th, +2), 0.5 GB), Los Angeles (115, 8th, -24)
2012: Washington (64, 1st, +11), St. Louis (67, 2nd, +56), San Francisco (88, 6th, +2), Cincinnati (90, 8th, -3), Atlanta (99, 9th, +19), Cubs (103, 13th, -21)
So what do we see? A stronger predictor than runs scored, for sure. Last season was a weird year. Overall, it helps to be in the top half of the league in pitching.
And what about the Cubs? Pitching in total wasn't the problem last year. They struggled to score and Jose Veras blew several close games. Sure the Cubs added Jon Lester, but Jeff Samardzija pitched great last April. The rotation boost comes in two ways: adding Jake Arrieta (who missed last April rehabbing) and hopefully upgrading on the poor performances of Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood.
Hopefully the bullpen is much more stabilized than last season. The team, rightfully, feels much better about the bullpen as a whole. But could some weakness from the left-hand side deal the Cubs a crippling loss or two? What are your thoughts on the Cub arms this April? Leave your comments here and tomorrow we will wrap up the series by looking at the schedule.