It wasn’t quite as long between off days this time around. The Cubs have played nine games since we last paused to look at the bigger picture. If the weather cooperates, the next time we do so won’t be until July 2, after a string of 19 consecutive games. These nine games were a bit of good news, bad news. The Cubs did win five of nine, which is a perfectly fine result. But losing two out of three to wrap that stretch up against division rival Milwaukee Brewers was certainly not ideal. Certainly, after seven consecutive wins against the Brewers, you had to figure they were due for a counter punch. They are just too good a team to be continually held down. Still, I’m encouraged that in 11 games against the Cubs, the Brewers have scored just 16 runs. That’s a big part of the reason they’ve only won three games in the series.
As usual for an off day, we’ll have a mix of things to look at today. First and foremost, we check in on the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats. We’ll also have a look at run differential and how the Cubs stack up with other teams, particularly in the National League but also overall. We’ll peek at the division standings and for the first time I’ll have a look at some projections for the remainder of the season. We’ll look at National League team hitting and pitching statistics and see how the Cubs are fairing.
With that, we’ll get down to business. We start with a look at the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats.
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.
Year to Date total (change since last full standings)
* = Player currently in the minors/italics no longer in the organization
- Pedro Strop 13 (3)
- Steve Cishek 9 (1)
- Ben Zobrist 9 (1)
- Kyle Schwarber 8 (-1)
- Jon Lester 8 (3)
- Kyle Hendricks 7 (0)
- Randy Rosario 6 (3)
- Tommy La Stella 5 (0)
- Brandon Morrow 5 (0)
- Mike Montgomery 5 (6)
- Javier Baez 2.5 (-8.5)
- Efren Navarro 2 (0)
- Jose Quintana 2 (2)
- *Justin Hancock 1 (0)
- Luke Farrell 1 (1)
- *Cory Mazzoni 1 (2)
- Brian Duensing .5 (-2.5)
- *David Bote 0 (0)
- Justin Wilson 0 (2)
- Ian Happ -.5 (-2)
- Tyler Chatwood -1 (-3)
- Kris Bryant -1 (-1)
- Chris Gimenez -2 (-2)
- Eddie Butler DL -3 (0)
- *Jen-Ho Tseng -4 (0)
- *Victor Caratini -4 (0)
- Anthony Rizzo -4.5 (-2)
- Albert Almora Jr. -5 (-1)
- Carl Edwards Jr. DL -5 (0)
- Yu Darvish DL -6 (0)
- Jason Heyward -6 (5)
- Willson Contreras -18 (2)
- Addison Russell -24 (-5)
36 players have appeared in a game for the Cubs already this season. 33 of them have appeared in Heroes and Goats (Anthony Bass, Rob Zastryzny and Mark Zagunis have yet to appear in H&G). At least in part because Contreras and Russell have absorbed so much of the negative scoring, 19 players are at even or better for the year. The Cubs should breeze by the 40 mark for players that appear in a game by the end of the year as there are still a few useful bodies in Iowa that could contribute and there are always trade and waiver transactions in the second half, despite a fairly set core roster, I don’t expect this year to be much different. Even if there are no blockbuster trades, I’m sure the front office will pick up some pieces for the mix and get creative with the roster.
Over the period, Mike Montgomery was the biggest gainer at +6 followed closely by Jason Heyward at +5. I didn’t even list either as an option for the biggest gainer, so I guess the three people who voted other get credit for guessing “the field” over the eight options I gave in the poll. The 33 people who voted that Javier Baez would be the strongest performer airballed this one as Javy had the biggest negative at -8.5.
Addison Russell had the second largest negative change at -5 and that dropped him into last place and pushed him past the negative 20 plateau. He sits there alone was Willson Contreras is able to escape that mark for the time being. Pedro Strop takes over the lead. A group of four players sits within five points of the lead. With 19 games between off days and thus our look at these standings, I’d expect the standings to look radically different next time we check in.
National League Standings and Run Differential
The Cubs run differential is at +89. That’s down slightly since the last time we checked in. That mark is still leading the National League by a fair margin (Braves +67). Three American League teams have a higher mark (Astros +138, Red Sox +103 and Yankees +91). It amuses me that right now of the top five teams in run differential are in second place given that the statistic is generally fairly predictive over time.
The Cubs continue to have the second best record in the National League and for one day had the best record before slipping back the last two days. The Cubs winning percentage of .585 (-.004 since last update) has them on pace for 95 wins. The last time we looked at the standings, the Cubs were two games behind the Brewers. Even with only five wins in their last nine, that was still good enough to gain a half game on the Brewers in the standings. There is still a ton of baseball to be played there.
There are a lot of different projections available out there and I imagine some are better than others. But I’m going to reference the ones at CBS Sports as I like the way theirs looks. I don’t place a ton of value on these projection systems, but they do amuse me. Generally, they massively over value things that were expected of a team before the season while under valuing the strong performances on the field. That said, CBS has the Cubs winning 94 games. They show the Cubs with a 61% chance of winning the division and an 88% chance of making the playoffs. They have the Nationals (who are one game worse than the Cubs to this point) as the top team in the NL at the end at 96 wins. They have the Brewers winning 91 games. We’ll keep an eye on this as the season progresses too and the Cubs move towards a fourth consecutive post season berth.
Hitting and Pitching Statistics
On the heels of being shutout in consecutive games, the Cubs are below a five runs per game average for the first time in a while (4.97). That drops them down to second in the league (Braves 5.00). That drop was a big one for this time of the year as they were at 5.23 when we last checked. Team on base percentage continues to lead the majors, though it dropped to .340 (down .007), team batting average is fifth at .259 (down .007) and team slugging is ninth best at .418 (down .016).
On the other side of things, the pitching staff is allowing 3.56 runs per game. That is the third best number in the Majors (down .01). Team WHIP is at 1.254 (13th best, down .005). Team walks per nine was even at 4.2 and remains second worst in baseball. Team hits per nine was also steady at 7.1 per nine and is second in baseball.
Up Next: The Cubs continue this six game road trip with a trip to St. Louis for a three game series. The Cardinals just concluded a three game series at home against the Padres and lost two of three. They also had a Thursday off day. The Cardinals have split their last 10 games winning five and losing five. Included in that stretch are two losses to the Padres and two to the Marlins. Sometimes it is hard to beat up on those bad teams.
Jon Lester will be on the mound for the opener. He’s having another fantastic season with a 7-2 record and a 2.22 ERA. He’s even better than that over his last seven with a 5-1 record and a 1.84 ERA. Last time out he was at his best. He threw seven scoreless innings in a win over the Pirates. He allowed just one hit and two walks. He has yet to allow a run in June with two scoreless starts covering 14 innings. He’s faced the Cardinals twice already this year and he was the winner in one of those. He’s thrown 11⅓ innings and allowed eight hits, five walks and three runs (two earned) while striking out 11. He’s 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA over his last five starts against the Cardinals, let’s hope that continues.
Michael Wacha will get the start for the Cardinals. He’s off to an 8-1 start with a 2.47 ERA. He too is trending even better than that. He’s 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA over his last seven starts. He’s won his last three starts. Last time out he went 5⅔ innings against the Reds and allowed four hits, three walks and two runs while striking out six. He faced Lester in a game back on May 6 that the Cubs eventually lost in extras. He lasted 5⅓ innings and allowed 6 hits, three walks and two runs (one earned) while striking out five. He was hit hard by the Cubs in 2017 though and in his last five starts against the Cubs he is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA. Let’s hope the Cubs bats come ready to go after the off day. Certainly Wacha isn’t the guy you are hoping to face after being shutout in back to back games.
Who will be the top performer in Heroes and Goats through July 1?
This poll is closed