The Chicago Cubs pitching staff came up big last week as the Cubs won two out of three from each of the mighty San Diego Padres and the not-so-mighty Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Record: 4-2, .667 (T-1)
- Runs scored: 27 (10) Runs Allowed: 18 (1)
- Player of the Week: Kyle Hendricks, 14 1/3 IP, 0.63 ERA, 0 HR
The Cubs won the week with a collective pitching performance usually only visible to Cubs fans after a considerable quantity of peyote. The staff prevailed by crushing the Two Bad Outcomes: they had a homer rate of 0.52/9 and a walk rate of 6.3 percent, both tops in the NL. Of the 12 pitchers to take the mound this week, eight of them had ERAs under 3.40. Kyle Hendricks had a fantastic week, featuring by far his best start of the year against the Padres.
What we learned last week
Velocity isn’t everything. The Cubs managed to pitch extremely well despite (still) having the softest-tossing staff in all the land. The way to do that is the way they did it this week: squeeze out homers and walks. Having a stellar defense helps, and that part of the plan has started leaving paint on the guardrail as Nico Hoerner joined Nick Madrigal on the IL last week. On the other hand, Alfonso Rivas seems to have taken over at first, and he’s a clear defensive upgrade over Frank Schwindel.
What we questioned last week
How much longer can Jonathan Villar last? He had a ghastly week, striking out 35 percent of the time, walking zero percent of the time, and generally flailing his way to a -40 wRC+. Yep, that’s a minus sign there. His Outs Above Average stands at -6, tied for the worst among fielders with at least 50 attempts.
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Villar is just 31, not quite old enough to get MLB’s senior discount, so perhaps he’ll pull out of this. Sadly for the Cubs, they will likely give him plenty of chances to do so. Iowa offers little respite. Robel Garcia is crushing Triple-A pitching, but he’s shown little ability to do so at the major league level. Ditto for Dixon Machado. That said, If Villar’s defensive nightmare continues, maybe the Cubs will turn to one of those other guys simply to stop the hemorrhaging of runs.