Three weeks ago today, the Cubs lost the first game of a homestand, 7-5 to the Nationals. They stood 8½ games out of first place in the N.L. Central and were buried behind seven other teams in the wild-card race, tied with the Mets at 43-50. It was beginning to be assumed that the Cubs would be sellers at the trade deadline.
And then they got hot. REALLY hot. They took the next two games from the Nats, lost one to the Cardinals, then won eight in a row and became modest buyers, adding Jeimer Candelario and Jose Cuas. (Cuas, incidentally, has been a good under-the-radar addition so far, throwing three scoreless innings, including one in a high-leverage situation on Sunday.)
Since that loss to the Nats, the Cubs are 15-4, the best record in baseball, and are now sitting in the third wild-card spot and are just 1½ games out of first place in the division. It’s been a remarkable run. Let’s have a look at the just-completed seven-game homestand, on which the Cubs went 5-2.
The entire team gets hot, and scores tons of runs
Over the seven-game homestand, the Cubs scored 60 runs, by far the most of any MLB team over the past week (no one else even scored 50, the second-most was 46, by the Dodgers).
The Cubs played 58 innings in the homestand. They scored runs in 26 of them (and that’s including being shut out Friday, so 26 of the other 49 innings), and scored multiple runs in 15 innings, both those numbers are absolutely outstanding. And they could have won a sixth game, the loss to the Reds in the homestand opener was by one run.
The Cubs’ 574 runs ranks fifth in MLB and third in the National League. In the N.L., only the Braves and Dodgers have scored more. That’s a pace for 830 runs. No Cubs team has scored that many since 2008 (855).
Fun fact from last week:
The @Cubs have scored 150 runs in their first 20 games since the All-Star break, tied for the second most since the All-Star Break first took place in 1933, behind the California Angels with 161 in 1995. pic.twitter.com/mbMfaxyzJb— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) August 4, 2023
Cody Bellinger continues his hot July into August
Over the homestand, Bellinger hit .444/.500/.667 (12-for-27) with three doubles, a home run and nine runs scored. He struck out just once. He’s got a chance to be named N.L. Player of the Week again.
For those who have been asking why Bellinger, who’s now batting .326, doesn’t show up in the league leaders: Batters need 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify for those lists. The Cubs have played 112 games, thus a batter would need 347 PA to qualify. Bellinger currently has 344 PA. He should qualify by the end of this week. If he had enough PA to qualify now, his BA would rank fourth and his SLG and OPS sixth. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate.
Let’s give Mike Tauchman the recognition he deserves
Tauchman is now basically the Cubs’ everyday right fielder, with an occasional day off vs. LHP for Seiya Suzuki. And he’s rewarded that confidence placed in him with a stellar week: .381/.440/.667 (8-for-21) with three doubles, a home run, six RBI and eight runs scored.
Kyle Hendricks had a stinker against the Braves
Hendricks threw three perfect innings and then... yikes, the Braves just pounded him, smashing two home runs and scoring seven runs in the fourth.
After a good start following his comeback from shoulder issues, Kyle has a 6.14 ERA and has allowed eight home runs in 33⅔ innings over his last six starts.
Hopefully the outing vs. Atlanta is just a blip and he’ll correct things next time. He’s scheduled to face the Mets Wednesday in New York.
Anthony Kay RHOOTL’d himself
Kay had been the last guy in the pen and the only lefty. His lefthandedness is likely what kept him around. Then he got a fairly simple assignment: Record the last three outs with a 15-run lead last Tuesday. And he got the first two outs on just four pitches.
But then he had trouble throwing strikes, and wound up giving up four runs, and was sent back to Iowa for Caleb Kilian on Sunday.
If you are not familiar with the acronym “RHOOTL,” it’s a BCB-ism for “Ran Him Out Of The League.”
Mark Leiter Jr. becomes the “lefty” in the pen, because of his great splits vs. LH batters. Lefthanded hitters are batting .149/.224/.265 (18-for-121) against Leiter with 48 strikeouts.
Justin Steele is struggling... a bit
The Cubs won both games Steele started, but he posted a 4.78 ERA, 4.32 FIP and 1.765 WHIP over the two starts. Fortunately, the Cubs scored lots of runs for Steele — he now ranks fourth in MLB in run support among qualified starters at 6.6 runs per start.
Hopefully, the three off days coming up over the next couple of weeks will help Steele get extra rest so he can be strong down the stretch.
How many games will the Cubs win on the road trip to New York and Toronto?
This poll is closed