With no game last night, the Cubs had a chance to catch a quick breather before a quick three game trip. That gives us a good time to take a look at the full year to date standings including the amount of change up or down each player has made since the last time we looked at these standings back on April 24. We’ll also take a look at how the Cubs are stacking up in the actual standings, and some key hitting and pitching statistics. We’ll take a quick look at some of the early returns on WPA Play of the Game. Then we’ll finish with a look at tonight’s game against the Cardinals.
As a reminder, Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA. The highest WPA will be the Superhero. A superhero is worth +3 points in the cumulative standings. Second place is the Hero and that is worth +2 points and third place is the Sidekick and that is worth +1 points. On the other side of the ledger, last place is the Billy Goat and that’s worth -3 points. Second and third to last are the Goat and the Kid which are worth -2 and -1 points respectively.
* = Player currently in the minors (change since last full standings)
- Javier Baez 13 (-1)
- Kyle Schwarber 6 (1)
- Tyler Chatwood 6 (6)
- Ben Zobrist 5 (1)
- Steve Cishek 5
- Kyle Hendricks 5 (3)
- Pedro Strop 5 (3)
- Brandon Morrow 5 (3)
- Tommy La Stella 3 (-3)
- Brian Duensing 3
- Efren Navarro* 2
- Carl Edwards Jr. 2 (1)
- Luke Farrell 2 (2)
- Kris Bryant 0 (-2)
- Justin Wilson 0 (2)
- Jose Quintana 0 (3)
- Ian Happ -.5 (2)
- Victor Caratini -2 (-2)
- Mike Montgomery -2 (2)
- Eddie Butler -3
- Albert Almora Jr. -4 (-7)
- Willson Contreras -6 (-1)
- Jason Heyward -8 (-8)
- Yu Darvish -9
- Anthony Rizzo -12 (-3)
- Addison Russell -13 (-2)
Javier Baez continues to have a sizable lead at the top of the list despite a stretch of games where he’s cooled off. Behind him is a group of seven players separated by just one point. Things should start to sort themselves out over the next month in that regard. At the bottom of the list, Addison Russell continues to have a slight lead over Anthony Rizzo. But Rizzo’s bat showed signs of life just before the off day and he is a perennial leader in this statistic for the Cubs so I expect him to turn it around soon.
For this period of time, the biggest gainer was Tyler Chatwood. He had two Superhero appearances and moved all of the way up into a tie for second on the year. Jason Heyward nudged out Albert Almora -8 to -7 for the dubious distinction of the most negative over the period. Lack of consistent production from the outfield was a theme over this stretch.
National League Standings overview
The Cubs find themselves at 16-12 and one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Those Brewers have an 18-6 record when they aren’t playing the Cubs. Which one is the aberration? The Cubs are actually in third place because the Cardinals are sandwiched between the two teams a half game out.
Across the league, the Arizona Diamondbacks have the best record at 21-10 followed by the surprising Atlanta Braves at 19-11. The other two National League favorites before the season, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers are 16-16 and 14-17 respectively. So none of the heavy preseason favorites are in first place right now.
Looking at run differential, the Atlanta Braves actually lead the NL at +57 followed by the Diamondbacks at +39. The St. Louis Cardinals are third at +27 and the Cubs follow at +25. Two teams that have jumped out to early strong starts but don’t really have a run differential to support it are the New York Mets at 17-12 with a -5 run differential and the Milwaukee Brewers at 19-13 with a +7 differential. The Cubs weren’t exactly running up the score in those seven wins against the Brewers, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers begin to backslide soon. The Mets already have with a three game losing streak and seven of ten to the downside.
Hitting and Pitching Statistics
Despite only scoring 16 runs over the last eight games, the Cubs check in at 4.86 runs per game which is good for sixth in all of baseball and second in the N.L. behind the Braves. The team on base percentage is .324 (10th MLB, 4th N.L.), the team slugging percentage is .406 (12th ML, 3rd NL), and the team OPS+ is 99 (12th MLB, 4th N.L.). So the team continues to be near the top of all of the offensive statistics despite dropping backwards.
Despite the 11 runs allowed in that last game of the homestand, the pitching stats have really shaped up since the last time we looked at them. The Cubs are allowing 3.96 runs per game. That is seventh in all of baseball and fifth in the NL. WHIP is a little bit less kind. The Cubs are 1.316 in that which is below league average. The culprit is not hits, as the Cubs hits per nine is 7.6 (7th MLB, 5th N.L.). The Cubs are in fact, the fourth worst team in baseball in terms of walks at 4.3 walks per nine. Oddly, the Atlanta Braves are worst and have been one of the best teams in baseball. The Cubs are also below average in strike outs per nine which surprises me a bit. They come in at 8.6 per nine. League average is 8.7 and so the Cubs are right in the middle of a whole group of teams near that mark. The Cubs ERA+ is 116 (8th MLB, 4th N.L.). The pitching has taken some giant strides since we last looked yet there is still plenty of room for improvement.
WPA Play of the Game Numbers:
Top 5 largest to date:
- Brandon Morrow -.390 on March 30
- Pedro Strop -.326 on March 31
- Ben Zobrist .252 on April 7
- Brandon Morrow .245 on April 26
- Javier Baez .239 on April 6
Most WPA Events Total:
- Javier Baez 5
- Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, Jon Lester 3
Most WPA Positive Events:
- Javier Baez 5
- Ben Zobrist, Brandon Morrow 2
Most WPA Negative Events:
- Yu Darvish 3
- Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks 2
Up Next: The Cubs will start a three-game series in St. Louis. This is only a three game trip before the Cubs are right back at home. The Cardinals have won their last two games with identical 3-2 scores over the White Sox. Before that, they lost three straight in their own three game trip to Pittsburgh. Overall they’ve won six of 10, just a tick worse than the Cubs at seven of 10.
The Cubs will look to Jose Quintana to stop their two-game skid. He is 3-1 with a 5.74 ERA on the season. His last time out he was fantastic with seven shut out innings against the Brewers allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven. He faced the Cardinals twice last year after coming over to the Cubs. He won one of those and got a no decision in the other. His total numbers were 11⅔ innings, 11 hits, three walks, six runs and fifteen strike outs. Not great numbers for sure, but the good news is he’s never lost a decision against them.
Miles Mikolas will get his first ever start against the Cubs. He is 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA on the year. Last time out he pitched well against the Pirates but got a no decision. He threw seven innings allowing six hits, no walks and two runs while striking out seven. He has thrown seven innings in his last three starts and went 6⅓ in the one before that, so Mike Matheny gets some length out of him. On paper, he looks like a right handed strike thrower. On the year, he has held right handed hitters to a .552 OPS and left handers to a .717. Expect a heavy left handed hitting lineup tonight. For those of you like me who wonder just who the heck this is and if the Cardinals have found yet another gem in their farm system, the answer is no. Miles is 29 years old and certainly no kid. Of course that doesn’t mean that they haven’t found a gem on the reclamation market. We’ll see if he turns into a pumpkin as the season wears on. Miles last pitched in the major leagues in 2014 with the Texas Rangers.