The Cubs have played 17 games in 17 days since we last checked in on the standings. The Cubs did end up having one “off day” along the way (due to a rainout), but it was followed immediately by a doubleheader. Also along the way, the Cubs saw injuries to Kris Bryant and Brandon Morrow and also had Tyler Chatwood miss a start due to the birth of his first child. The Cubs played a number of games in sweltering heat and also faced a red-hot Reds team. To say that things were less than ideal over this stretch of games isn’t an over-statement.
Despite some adversity, the Cubs game through this stretch of 17 games with a record of 9-8 and that leaves their season record at 47-35 and on pace for 93 wins, just a little off the pace that they had been on.
As usual, we’ll take a look at the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats. Afterall, that’s why we are here. But, we’ll also take a look at the bigger picture and look at run differential and the actual Major League Baseball standings (with an emphasis on the National League). We’ll then take a look at hitting and pitching statistics and how the Cubs stack up.
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
- Javier Baez 15.5 (+13)
- Pedro Strop 13 (0)
- Jon Lester 13 (+5)
- Ian Happ 8.5 (+9)
- Ben Zobrist 8 (-1)
- Steve Cishek 8 (-1)
- Brandon Morrow 8 (+3)
- Mike Montgomery 7 (+2)
- Kyle Schwarber 7 (-1)
- Kyle Hendricks 6 (-1)
- Kris Bryant (DL) 5 (+4)
- Randy Rosario 4 (-2)
- Efren Navarro 2 (0)
- *Rob Zastryzny 2 (+2)
- Jason Heyward 2 (+8)
- Justin Hancock (DL) 1 (0)
- *Cory Mazzoni 1 (0)
- David Bote 1 (+1)
- Anthony Bass 0 (0)
- Jose Quintana -1 (-3)
- Luke Farrell -1 (-2)
- Dillon Maples -2 (-2)
- Tyler Chatwood -2 (-1)
- Tommy La Stella -2 (-7)
- Justin Wilson -3 (-3)
- Eddie Butler (DL) -3 (0)
- *Jen-Ho Tseng -3 (0)
- *Victor Caratini -4 (0)
- Brian Duensing (DL) -4.5 (-5)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (DL) -5 (0)
- Chris Gimenez -6 (-4)
- Yu Darvish (DL) -6 (0)
- Albert Almora Jr. -7 (-2)
- Anthony Rizzo -10.5 (-6)
- Willson Contreras -19 (-1)
- Addison Russell -30 (-6)
36 different players have now appeared on a Hero or a Goat podium at some point this year. This organization uses its 40 man roster aggressively to say the last. Obviously, there are also a good number of bodies (six not counting Drew Smyly who was injured at the time of signing) on the disabled list right now. If I count right, Dillon Maples was the 38th Cub to appear in a game so far this year with Mark Zagunis and Duane Underwood the only ones yet to make either podium.
After nearly falling out of the top ten at the time of the last update, Javier Baez is back in first place (15.5) he also had the largest positive move between updates (+13). Jon Lester and Pedro Strop are tied for second with 13 points each. Ian Happ and Jason Heyward (+9 and +8) also made large positive moves over this stretch of games. Ben Zobrist and Steve Cishek both briefly spent time above the +10 threshold, but that’s been a tricky plateau to maintain.
On the negative side, Addison Russell remains in the cellar. Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo both finish this stretch in the bottom three with Rizzo sliding back after briefly climbing the standings a bit. Russell and Rizzo were actually tied for the second worst score over the period at -6, but both trailed Tommy La Stella (-7).
National League Standings and Run Differential
The Cubs finish this stretch of games with the third highest winning percentage in the National League and in second place in the Central Division. The Braves have emerged with the best record in the league at 48-34 (.585). The Brewers slide into second at 48-35 (.578) and the Cubs are right behind that at 47-35 (.573). One game separates the top three teams.
The Cubs continue to have the best run differential in the National League at +99. The Braves are second at +82 and the Brewers check in at fifth (+47, behind the Diamondbacks +54 and Dodgers +51). ESPN’s expanded standings show expected win/loss records with the Cubs at 52-30, ahead of the Braves at 50-32 and the Brewers at 47-36. The Astros (+170), the Red Sox (+119) and the Yankees (+111) sport the best overall run differentials.
As for projections, CBS Sports projects the Cubs to lead the league with 95 wins. They have the Dodgers second at 93 wins and the Brewers following that at 91. For the first time I’ve seen, they project the Phillies to win the Eastern Division with 89 wins, just ahead of the Nationals at 88. Fangraphs also projects the Cubs to have the most wins in the National League at 92. They have the Dodgers second at 89 wins and the Brewers at 87. They have the Nationals nudging out the Braves 87 wins to 86 wins. 86 wins seems awfully bearish on the Braves to me.
Fangraphs gives the Cubs a 93.2% chance of making the playoffs, best in the National League. They give the Cubs a 77.2% chance of winning the division and a 10.7% chance of winning the World Series. They’ve nudged the Dodgers ahead of that (11.8%) based upon the hot streak the Dodgers have been on since we last looked at these numbers. Based in large part to being in the same division as the Yankees, the Red Sox are now projected with less chance of winning the World Series than the Cubs (10.4%) though only slightly.
Hitting and Pitching Statistics
When last we visited the hitting stats, the Cubs had fallen below five runs per game (4.97), a threshold they’d been above for quite a while. With their barrage this week, the Cubs have actually climbed up to 5.12 and are now third in baseball, just behind the Red Sox (5.16) and Yankees (5.15). Team batting average is up to .266 (up .007!), best in baseball (including teams that use designated hitters basically every day). Team on base percentage is up to .345 ( + .005) and is tops in baseball. Team slugging percentage increased to .429 (up .011) and is fifth in baseball (1st in the NL). This was undoubtedly a large chunk of games at more than 10% of the full season. However, more than a third of the way through the season at the start of this stretch, these numbers represent a healthy increase.
On the other side of things, the pitching staff is allowing 3.91 runs per game. That’s an increase of 0.35 runs per game. That’s not healthy at all this time of the year and is not a good trend at all, even knowing that hitting conditions have been much improved. This dropped the Cubs to eighth overall in runs allowed per game (fourth in the National League). Hopefully, the Cubs can get some arms healthy and stabilize the backslide. The offense certainly scores enough runs to offset some runs allowed, but run prevention is the cornerstone of most great teams.
It wasn’t just the runs that went up (and thus isn’t by itself just a sequencing thing). The Cubs are now allowing 7.6 hits per nine (up .5), fifth in the MLB (second NL). Their overall WHIP is 1.323 (up .067) and is now below average. The walks per nine innings increased to 4.3 per nine and is tied with the White Sox for the worst number in the MLB.
Team ERA was 3.33 in March/April, 3.25 in May but 3.98 in June. The blame can be split fairly well between starters and relievers as the starters had an ERA in June of 3.96 and the bullpen had a 4.01. However, the backslide can definitely be traced to the relievers. The stater ERA by month has been 3.84, 3.60, 3.96. The relief ERA by month has been 2.56, 2.79, 4.01. The bullpen has been particularly affected by the injury bug with mainstays Brandon Morrow, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brian Duensing all spending time on the disabled list.
Up Next: The Cubs continue their homestand with two games against the Detroit Tigers. Detroit has won their last two games, but those came after an 11-game losing streak. They are 7-13 in their last 20 and 12-18 in their last 30, so things aren’t going well at all and haven’t been for a while. The Tigers are just 14-27 away from home, they are actually over .500 in Detroit.
The Cubs send Kyle Hendricks to the mound. Kyle is 5-8 with a 4.21 ERA on the season. Things are not heading in the right direction as Kyle is 2-5 with a 5.45 ERA over his last seven starts. He lasted just 2⅔ innings in his last start against the Dodgers. He allowed eight hits, two walks, six runs and two home runs. Kyle’s lacked run support this year, but that was not the issue last time out. He’s never started against the Tigers.
Michael Fulmer is the Tigers starter. He is 3-7 with a 4.20 ERA. He has pitched a bit better of late at 2-4 with a 4.01 ERA. Last time out he threw eight innings in a loss. He allowed nine hits and four runs despite not walking anyone. He was allowed to throw 110 pitches. He has also never faced the Cubs.
We’ll next look at the standings during the All-Star break. Last time around, we polled who would be the top performer of this stretch and I’ll credit the four of you who picked other as being right in that Javy Baez was the top performer and not listed. (Jason Heyward and Ian Happ weren’t listed either, so none of the top three were even poll options).
Who will be the top Cubs performer between now and the All-Star break?
This poll is closed