Matt Garza is the Best Pitcher in Baseball and Other Bullets – April 27, 2011

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Matt Garza is the Best Pitcher in Baseball and Other Bullets – April 27, 2011

Chicago Cubs News

Casey Coleman and Jhoulys Chacin each, in their own way, will determine whether the Cubs can escape the Rockies series with one win, or whether they get swept away at the outset of a really, really tough stretch of games. Chacin wins in every statistical category except crazy names per person (higher is worse). My glass is half empty.

  • According to advanced metrics (xFIP, to be precise), Matt Garza has been the best pitcher in baseball this year. How is that possible, you ask? xFIP tries to focus only on the things that a pitcher, himself, can control (strikeouts, homers, walks), and Garza has torn it up in those numbers. He’s also suffering from a very unlucky .414 BABIP, so I can accept that he’s been much better than his 4.11 ERA might suggest. But tops in baseball? Nah. Nah. Garza shows up in the top three in WAR, too.
  • In case you were hoping to see Jeff Baker at first base against all left-handers (because it’s the obvious decision at this point), stop hoping. Although Mike Quade will continue to work the hot-hitting and lefty-crushing Baker into the lineup when he can, he will not set up a platoon at first base. ‘‘It can’t be a platoon system for me because I still would like the left-handed power in the middle of that lineup that I know Carlos has,’’ Quade said. ‘‘And I’m not willing to bail on that two weeks, three weeks into the season in April in Chicago. Hopefully, that’s a conversation for never.’’ Query why a left-handed power bat that can’t hit left-handers is necessary in the middle of the order against left-handers.
  • Quade says he hasn’t given the fifth starter spot “an ounce of thought” following James Russell’s third consecutive highly-awful, and highly-predictable start. So is there any chance in the world that Russell starts again on Sunday, especially now that Jay Jackson is healthily pitching into the 7th inning at AAA Iowa (and is lined up to start on Sunday)? Well, you know what they say: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I’m a Cubs fan.
  • Quade has also defended Russell’s performance as a starter by saying that, when Russell’s been in the pen, hitters have missed his mistakes. But as a starter, hitters are drilling Russell’s mistakes. Really? That’s a defense? Just think about that for a moment.
  • Might be time for MLB to revise its procedure for putting names on the All-Star ballot (particularly the timing of it): featured on the ballot for the Cubs at second base? Blake DeWitt. Darwin Barney fans should get their write-in pencils ready.
  • Tom Ricketts talks about the financial state of the Cubs on WGN radio.
  • You’re not going to want to hear it, but the Cubs’ current MLB playoff odds stand at just 5% according to Baseball Prospectus.


Author: Brett Taylor

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