Series Review: Cubs Sweep Nationals, on Pace to Win 130 Games
What an amazing week it’s been for the Cubs and their fans. With a sweep of the Pirates and the Nationals the Cubs are now 24-6 on the year. If the Cubs win half their remaining games they will end the season with a 90-72 record. Of course, that’s saying the Cubs would have to lose half of their remaining games too and that seems almost impossible to imagine.
At the current pace they’re on the Cubs would win 130 games. My guess is the Cubs end up somewhere in between 130 wins and 90 wins. The exact mid-point is 110 wins. In my opening day post I predicted 105 wins and I still feel pretty good about that number. More would certainly be welcome though!
The Cubs just finished sweeping the Nationals and I found it pretty entertaining that the best parting shot the Nationals could muster was claiming that the Cubs play ‘scared baseball’ because they didn’t pitch to Bryce Harper. Pahleeese, that’s the single lamest response I’ve ever seen to getting swept by another team. Time to move on.
The games in this series were much more close than most of the Cubs’ previous games. Going into the series the Cubs had a run differential of 93 runs. That’s 184 runs scored against 82 runs allowed for 113% more runs than their opponents. In the series against the Nationals the Cubs outscored them 25-16, which is only 56% more runs. These numbers are absurd but highlight how good the Cubs have been. It’s getting ridiculous and it’s only 30 games into the season.
The Cubs starting pitching was, again, very good in this series. The starting pitchers combined for a 2.74 ERA. That’s higher than the Cubs league-leading ERA coming into the series but still lower than any other team in the Majors.
Jake Arrieta gave up an uncharacteristic three runs in his outing and failed to get the decision for the first time in eighteen games. So, while Arrieta didn’t completely and utterly dominate, he still pitched very well, kept the Cubs in the game and that allowed the Cubs to position themselves to win in the 13th inning.
Kyle Hendricks pitched his best game of the year and led the Cubs to 5-2 win in Thursday’s game, setting the tone for the rest of the series.
The bullpen wasn’t quite as good in this series, at least on paper, but they managed to get the job done when they really needed to and only gave up runs when the Cubs had a big enough lead to endure them. In Sunday’s extra inning game, the relievers shut the Nationals hitters completely down. They held the Nationals scoreless over the final eight innings, allowing five hits while walking six. It was the clutch pitching the Cubs needed to win the final game and complete the sweep.
Here’s the Cubs pitching totals for the series:
As good as their pitching was the Cubs hitting may have been better. The Cubs hit at least one home run in each game, including a monster shot by Kris Bryant into the teeth of a fifteen MPH wind and a walk-off 13th inning shot by Javier Baez. Oh, and let’s not forget about Ben Zobrists’ three home runs, with two coming in the Cubs 8-6 win on Friday.
Consider this, every single Cubs offensive hitter (non-pitchers) got a hit in this series. The hitters got it done.
Here’s the Cubs’ offense totals for the series:
|Tommy La Stella||10||3||6||2||2||0||.600||.667|
Kyle Hendricks is my MVP pitcher in this series. He stepped up after being skipped for his prior start and pitched his best game of the year. Six innings, no runs, two hits, two walks and four strikeouts. That’s very good and an even better way to start the series by shutting down the Nationals.
The MVP on offense is Ben Zobrist, who was incredible and really made the Nationals pay. I couldn’t understand why Dusty Baker decided to intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo in the bottom of the fourth inning of Thursday’s game. There were no outs, two men on and Zobrist, who was batting lefty against righty, on deck. Of course, Zobrist made the Nationals pay when he got a hit, driving in two of his series leading nine RBIs. He finished the series with three home runs, batting .462, scored five runs and walked five times. Take that Dusty!
The Cubs continue to terrorize every team they play. Their offense seems unstoppable and is only going to get better as the weather heats up. The Cubs lead the league in runs scored, OBP and walks. Meanwhile, they are 10th in BABIP, 10th in HRs, 12th in triples, 6th in doubles and 19th in singles.
The Cubs are leading the league in runs and OBP and a big reason why is the number of walks they take and clutch situational hitting. Looks like we were trying to help the Nationals by walking Harper. The biggest difference for the Cubs is they get clutch hitting when they need it.