The Cubs beat the Reds 9-0 on Sunday as Kyle Hendricks threw a gem and the offense showed up big, a combination that leads to a fun, relaxing game. That’s an experience that, anecdotally, felt like it had been happening less often than it should. Based on my memories, the Cubs offense and rotation never seemed to be in sync this season.
Every time the Cubs had a decent stretch of consistent starting pitching, the offense would go missing; resulting in a series of low scoring games. Then the starting pitching would go to pot, but the offense would pick up the slack and start winning come-from-behind games with scores like 8-6.
So I decided to go to the numbers to see if my memory was accurate. It was not.
As of Tuesday August 28, the Cubs have played 130 games (77-53), and have scored 5+ runs in 62 of those games. Meanwhile, the starting rotation has had 48 “high-quality starts” in which the starting pitcher went 6+ IP and gave up 2 or fewer runs. (I am aware this is stingier than the normal “quality start” metric, but I cannot get behind a stat that calls a 4.50 ERA a quality start.)
I cross-referenced the two groups of games and determined that the Cubs had 21 games (including Sunday) in which they scored 5+ and the starting pitcher went 6+ IP with two runs or less. That is only one fewer than the math says we should expect.
While the underlying premise that started my research turned out to be false, I dug up a lot of fun and useful statistics along the way that I thought y’all might enjoy.
Season record facts
- The Cubs have gone 55-7 when they score 5+ runs
- The Cubs have gone 39-9 when the starter goes 6+ innings with 2 runs or fewer
- Unsurprisingly, the Cubs have gone 21-0 when both occur
- Hendricks and Jon Lester are tied with the most high-quality starts (11 each in 26 and 27 games, respectively)
- Oddly, the Cubs have gone 10-1 in Lester’s games but only 7-4 in Hendricks’
- Jose Quintana has 10 high-quality starts and the Cubs have won all 10
- Mike Montgomery has six high-quality starts out of only 13 total starts (46%)
- Cole Hamels is 4-for-5, but you probably knew that
- Yu Darvish had three high-quality starts in his eight games, but also had two clunkers in which he failed to reach the 5th inning
- Tyler Chatwood had only three high-quality starts, both of which occurred in a single week in April
- The Cubs bullpen has 57 games in which they have not allowed an earned run
- 14 of those games were shutouts
- In six of these 57 games, the starter failed to reach the 4th inning
- In another three, the starter failed to reach the 5th
- Surprisingly, Chatwood is only responsible for one of these nine games
- The bullpen also had two more games in which they held the opponent scoreless for 7 innings before losing in extra innings
Bonus Feature – Daydream Cubs: 1996
In a parallel universe where Moshe was transported back as GM of the 1981 Cubs, we rejoin the Daydream Cubs. For a full explanation of what is going on here, this original post explains it all. Click here for 1995, or here for a summary all drafts & rosters to date.
1996 Draft: (#) Player’s real-life selection round; AS= All-Star; GG = Gold Glove.
- Round 1: Jimmy Rollins (2) – SS: AS (x3), GG (x4), MVP (x1)
- Round 2: Chad Bradford (13) – RP
- Round 3: Roy Oswalt (23) – SP: AS (x3)
- Round 4: Ted Lilly (23) – SP: AS (x2)
Finally, a middle infielder. It has been seven years since the 1989 draft provided any real help to the double play combination. Jimmy Rollins fills a desperate need. Grudzielanek is neither a true shortstop nor an impact player. Chad Bradford, he of Moneyball fame, is a solid bullpen pickup. He is also the first Daydream Cub pick to never make an All-Star team or win a major award.
The Daydream Cubs produce a very respectable 65 WAR in 1996, but it could have been much higher. Jeff Bagwell produced 7.5 WAR in 1996 and Jim Thome was still playing 3B in ’96. I could have had both in the lineup. Yet with the Daydream Cubs already over budget I had to let Bagwell go, shift Jim Thome to 1B, and allow Scott Rolen to debut. If only the mid-90’s Cubs had not been so cheap.