Sunday: Justin Steele (9-2, 2.56 ERA) vs. Kutter Crawford (3-4, 4.11 ERA)
Sunday's series finale brings us the most Southern matchup of the whole weekend.
I know I mentioned Marcus Stroman putting the Cubs on his back, but it's Justin Steele that'll be the backbone of the Cubs rotation for the coming years.
While missing out on yet another MLB power ranking, Cubs fans are able to attest to just how good Steele has been for Chicago this season.
Through 16 starts and 91.1 innings this season, Steele ranks within the top 15 in baseball across several stats, including 4th in ERA, 12th in WHIP (1.06), 7th in FIP (2.86), and tied for 1st with Framber Valdez and Clayton Kershaw in ERA- (60).
In terms of his arsenal, the main culprits of his success all lie within what Yan Gomes called his "country-boy fastball" earlier this season, the pitch that's created a16 run value that ranks in the top 10 of all pitches in baseball, and his slider. They're the two pitches he almost exclusively relies on, using the fastball 63.2% of the time and the slider for 32.8%.
Facing off against the Cubs ace is Kutter Crawford, who also relies on the four-seamer out of his six-pitch arsenal, using it 39.8% of the time.
But, before you ask, yes! A cutter is, in fact, included in Kutter Crawford's arsenal, and it's actually what he uses about 28% of the time.
Unfortunately for him, his namesake hasn't fared him well this season–– hitters have had the most success off this pitch this season, batting .365 with a .556 slugging and .408 wOBA, compared to a .171 average, .317 slugging, and .252 wOBA on his four-seamer.
With a 23.1% K rate, he generates the most swings and misses from the four-seamer at 29.5%.
Between Hendricks, Stroman, and Steele, it seems the Cubs have placed their faith in the hands of a reliable trio that's helped keep them in it up to this point in the season. Happy second half, Cubs fans!