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The Best Pitching in Baseball? Yup, It’s Been the Cubs and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Among the after effects of late nights and limited sleep – something we’ve experienced a lot here early in the season – the one that bugs me the most is the headache I get the next day. I’ll just be over here poppin’ some pills …

  • We’ll get more into John Lackey’s incredible start last night later today – it may have been even better than you realized – but I wanted to speak more generally this morning about the Cubs’ pitching. It’s not like it was a secret coming into the season that the Cubs had the arms to be among the best pitching teams in baseball – they got preseason love for it here, here, here, here, and here – but the positional group, for good reason, still got most of the attention. And even now, as the offense goes through fits and spurts, it still gets a lot of attention. But how about the pitching?
  • The Cubs have a 2.24 team ERA right now, lowest in baseball. Average in baseball is 3.94! The Cubs’ 2.70 FIP is second best in baseball (Mets), and 2.89 xFIP is best. In the bullpen, the Cubs are top five across the board in any important stat you could think of. And in the rotation, it’s top three. Yes, the Cubs’ pitching so far has been absurdly good.

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  • And how about this: through 13 games, the Cubs’ starters have logged 12 quality starts (at least six innings, giving up no more than three earned runs – it’s designed to be a very rough guide of whether the starter had at least a decent outing). Only John Lackey’s debut in Arizona was of the non-quality variety, and even that one saw him go six innings. That means, yes, Cubs starting pitchers have gone at least six innings in every single start this season. That’s absolutely nuts through 13 games. Indeed, you can tack on four more games at the end of last season, and the Cubs’ starting pitcher six-inning streak is up to 17 games (and the game just before the streak started saw Jason Hammel go five scoreless innings). I could be wrong, but I suspect that’s a super long streak. Probably not historically long, but I bet it’s not that common. We’ll see if Hammel can keep it up tonight.
  • I really enjoyed each of Jason Heyward’s and John Lackey’s reactions to the boos they received in St. Louis last night (Cubs.com). Heyward said, “They don’t boo too often. It must be somebody important or somebody doing something worth booing.” Lackey said, “I’ve seen booing. That ain’t booing.” Could you respond more perfectly than those two did? One guy is like, “Thanks for the compliment.” The other guy is like, “You’re not even good at booing.” Trollololololol.
  • Speaking of the rivalry:

  • And speaking of Heyward and the Cardinals, he expanded on his offseason comments about why he left the Cardinals in favor of the Cubs (comments that drew the ire of Mike Matheny and Adam Wainwright), and you can read about it here at ESPN. Short version? He wanted to be somewhere where the core players were under team control for a long time.

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  • MLBTR is interviewing baseball execs about their time in college, and the latest installment features Cubs GM Jed Hoyer talking about his time at Wesleyan. Hoyer gets into how his college years impacted him down the road, and how he transitioned into a professional life in the sport. Really interesting read, both because you see a lot of who Hoyer is as a person, but also as you see the story of how one exec got into the game – there are so many potential paths.
  • I could not be more impressed by this fan foul ball catch in Boston. One-handed, backhanded, way up high, holding onto a drink, holding onto a phone, AND in a walking boot? Are you kidding me?
  • Today only the Amazon Echo is 15% off.
  • Ian Kinsler did the thing we always talk about players doing but they never actually do: dropped a pop fly on purpose.

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  • Mike Leake gave up a run-scoring single to John Lackey last night and he was not happy about it (also, click “follow”!):


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.