Heading into the Series: Chicago Cubs
Record (Last 10): 5-5
ERA: 4.06 – 9th in National League
OBP: .346 – 1st in National League
Team HR: 24 – 9th in National League
Team Leader – WAR: Javier Baez – 1.3 WAR (Baseball Reference)
Despite the offensive resurgence the Cubs displayed on the recent road trip, the club still managed a lackluster 5-5 record over their last 10 ballgames. A big part of that? Starting pitching.
Yu Darvish is yet to get through five quality innings in a start. Jose Quintana‘s been burned by big innings multiple times and Tyler Chatwood plays with fire every time he takes the hill. That being said, Lester pitched well in the finale in Cleveland and Kyle Hendricks comes off his first win of the year.
The story, as we all know, is Javier Baez. The exciting infielder added two more hits in the loss Wednesday, and is hitting north of .300. But he can’t do it alone. Anthony Rizzo continues to scuffle in a big way and Kris Bryant has been sidelined since being hit in the head by a pitch over the weekend.
Albert Almora seems to have cemented himself as the team’s center fielder and Willson Contreras is starting to heat up. Situational hitting will be this team’s cure or curse, depending on the outcome. In their most recent contest, Cubs hitters went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Given the team ranks near the bottom of the league in percentage of runs scored via the long ball, situational hitting is the end-all. You can’t win without it – a lesson these young hitters are quickly learning.