That’s the ERA of the Chicago Cubs’ starting rotation. The entire rotation. For more than two months of the season.
That number would be sufficiently excellent that, together with some good peripherals, might get a guy individually discussed in the Cy Young race. And yet it’s the entire Cubs rotation.
Before we get back to some more impressive Cubs rotational bits, let’s take a look at the latest gem unearthed by a Cubs starter – John Lackey’s brilliant performance yesterday against a very good Diamondbacks lineup:
Lackey was throwing with so much confidence and aggressiveness, and all his pitches were working. Lackey got 13 whiffs on the day, nine strikeouts, and walked just two while allowing five hits. That, plus 6.2 scoreless innings equals an excellent day.
The start dropped Lackey’s ERA/FIP/xFIP line to 2.88/3.19/3.44, which is fantastic. It’s also the highest ERA in the rotation, the third highest FIP, and fourth highest xFIP.
Because this rotation’s performance thus far has simply been bonkers.
The Cubs’ rotation ERA is nearly a run better than the next best team in baseball (Nationals, 3.14). They lead in the WAR department by a healthy margin over the much ballyhooed Mets (8.3 to 7.6). The team’s stellar defense also deserves a lot of the credit there, but keep in mind that the Cubs’ fielding-independent stats are also awesome: their 3.07 FIP is the best in baseball, and their 3.48 xFIP is third best.
I’m not sure how much longer this will last – at least not at this level, and probably not with perfect health – but the Cubs genuinely do have five very good, effective starters in their rotation. It’s not just Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester dominating, and the rest filling in on their days.
It helps that the Cubs also have been great in all other phases of the game, and can thus absorb some drop in starting pitcher performance if and when regression and/or injury comes. For now, though, I’m content to enjoy the ride, and remind folks that the Cubs’ huge lead in the NL Central is thanks as much to the starting rotation as the vaunted offense.