Cubs: Starting pitching is as big a problem as the inconsistent offense

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

For more than two weeks now, we’ve talked about how poorly the Cubs offense has performed. The team has mustered more than four runs just three times heading into action Tuesday night at Wrigley – and it’s culminated in a last-place, 6-9 record.

When a club is struggling in ways that teams haven’t for decades, it makes sense everyone is focusing on it. But if you think once the Cubs get the bats going, that’s the end of the problems, though – you’re sadly mistaken.

Chicago’s starting pitching has been just as bad as its offense through the first 15 contests this season, evidenced by a 5.91 ERA – the third-worst mark in all of baseball. Looking for bright spots? Well, I don’t know that I can be of much use to you there.

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Opening Day starter Kyle Hendricks is off to a rough start and his last time out, he turned in one of the worst starts of his career. He allowed four first-inning home runs to the Braves on Sunday Night Baseball – and a failure to effectively command his pitches has been nothing short of a disaster in his first three starts.

From there, it doesn’t get much better. Zach Davies, who was billed as Hendricks-lite after coming over in the Yu Darvish trade this winter, owns a 10.32 ERA in his first three starts as a Cub. His 2.21 WHIP tells you all you need to know about just how ineffective he’s been to this point. One would think he’d turn the corner at some point, but the early returns don’t give much cause for hope.

Cubs: Inconsistency has been the story throughout the rotation

Davies’ go-to pitch, his sinker, has been teed up to the tune of a .400 average this season. From there, he’s essentially gone to just a two-pitch arsenal, pairing that sinker with a change-up that’s been hit at the tune of a .273 mark. Opposing hitters have clearly figured out how to attack him – and that’s bad news for Chicago.

The lone exception to the rotation’s struggles? Jake Arrieta, who entered his outing against the Mets with a 3.14 ERA and 3.27 FIP. He’s flirted with disaster on multiple occasions, but so far has avoided getting stung by the big inning.

Adbert Alzolay, who was optioned to the alternate site to conserve his innings for the year, his first as a big league starter, has been a mixed bag – although Statcast is pretty high on what he’s done (81st percentile in whiff rate 76th in xERA). He also carries a 0.97 WHIP in a pair of starts.

Offseason signing Trevor Williams has been up-and-down, as well. He’s got a pair of very strong outings sandwiched around a clunker against the Pirates in which he allowed five runs on 10 hits in just 3 1/3 innings. All-in, Williams has allowed a .281 average on the year, which clearly isn’t going to get the job done.

Next. Kyle Hendricks is decimating his trade value early on. dark

If the Cubs are going to turn it around, it’ll take more than the bats figuring things out. Whether it’s these five arms or someone like Alec Mills adding value, the starting pitching has to get better – and get better sooner rather than later.