Chicago Cubs dominating at home, treading water on the road

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

So far this season, the Chicago Cubs have played lights-out baseball at Wrigley Field, but sit one game below .500 on the road. Why the stark contrast?

Over their last 15 games, the Chicago Cubs have epitomized streaky play. They ran off a five-game winning streak, lost five in a row and have now won five straight once more. But, all told, this team has been much stronger at home than on the road.

Entering Sunday’s finale against the White Sox, the Cubs are 13-6 at Wrigley Field – good for a .684 winning percentage. Only the Philadelphia Phillies have won more games at home so far this year in the National League. But away from the Friendly Confines, Chicago sits at 8-9 – hardly what you’d want from a team with World Series aspirations.

So what’s the difference? We’ve all heard of home cooking, but there are always numbers that explain something like this.

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First, it merits looking at the schedule itself. Which teams matched up with the Cubs at home or on the road?

The team’s 17 road games came against Miami, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Colorado, Cleveland and St. Louis. Of course, the former two clubs represent two of the worst in the league. Colorado, St. Louis and Cleveland, though, all enter action Sunday at or above .500.

At home, the Cubs locked horns with Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Colorado and Milwaukee. So, if anything, their strength of schedule has been more difficult at Wrigley than on the road. We can safely rule that out.

Let’s take a look at the offense. At Wrigley, Chicago carries a batting average 20 points higher than on the road. In terms of OPS, there’s a similar split. The Cubs own an .816 OPS at home – compared to a .732 clip on the road. And, if you look closely, Chicago has struck out more on the road – despite playing two fewer contests.

So there’s something to be said for ‘home cooking’ – at least for the bats. Of the team’s eight 10-run outbursts, five came at Wrigley.

Pitching doing what it does – no matter where they’re at

What about the pitching, though?

Believe it or not, the Cubs’ road ERA is better than their home numbers. In 19 games at Clark and Addison, Chicago hurlers boast a respectable 3.53 mark. Away from there, that number drops to 3.25. Other than that, it’s been pretty even.

Next: Arrieta pitching like a man on a mission in Philly

So really, it comes down to the offense. The team has been better swinging the bats at home. Of course, this past week spells the difference this year – as the club has been white-hot offensively. If they can carry this performance into Atlanta this week, this home-road discussion may soon become a thing of the past.