The Cubs offense is gonna blow up today. I’m not much of a gambling man – aside from craps, roulette, black jack, baccarat, poker, or if anyone has some dice laying around (like, right now … anyone?) – but if I were, I’d bet the Cubs offense is going to blow up today. And I’ll give you a few reasons why, starting with the weakest and moving to the strongest. But before we get started, I just want to say something to all you pessimists, contrarians, and comment-section screen-shotters out there (yeah, I’m looking at you): If the Cubs offense doesn’t blow up today … I’ll just delete all of this and pretend like nothing ever happened.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 2, 2018
Reason #1: Adjacent to the Gambler’s Fallacy Admittedly, this is the weakest of my reasons, but it feels worth pointing out that despite scoring, on average, 4.96 runs per game this season – a number which, before this stretch of low-scoring affairs, was actually at 6.00 runs/game – the Cubs have averaged just 2.00 runs/game over the past seven games. And even if you’re one of those it’s only feast or famine with them types, consider that their median runs scored per game this season – including the terrible stretch – is still a full run higher (3.00). Oh, and before this stretch, it was 5.00 runs/game. Now, you can’t just say they’re due! because that’s a statistical fallacy, but in this context, without really much of anything changing, I think it’s pretty easy to say their performing below their expected levels. At some point, 00 just has to hit … right?
Reason #2: Rest This is a much less math-based reason, but I think the rest yesterday for guys like Willson Contreras, Albert Almora, and Javy Baez will be good for them. Each of those guys are near the top of the Cubs lineup today, and all three got the day off yesterday. On a tangential track, I think Kris Bryant about ready to turn things back on, too. He’s now played four games since sitting for about a week after getting hit in the head with a fastball, and he’s gone just 2-14 during that stretch. But maybe now, he’s had enough time to get used to his new helmet, see plenty of live pitching, and also gain his confidence back in the box.
Reason #3: Anderson’s Last Start The last time Tyler Anderson pitched against the Cubs (4/21), he held them to just two runs on six hits and two walks over six innings, striking out six. But the start after that (his most recent), he lasted just 1.1 innings in Miami, leaving the game after just 27 pitches while grabbing his chest. Apparently, he had an unexpected shortness of breath (his manager called it “the heartbeat issue,”) which obviously made it very difficult to pitch. Fortunately, Anderson is 100% fine and I fully expect him to be so today. The edge for the Cubs, then, is not hoping or expecting he can’t make his full start, it’s the possible rustiness that comes with throwing just 27 pitches on a day you’re supposed to go much longer (he reportedly wanted to throw out of the bullpen the day after, but they didn’t let him). It’s not hard to imagine his rhythm being a little off now, and the Cubs could certainly take advantage of that.
Reason #4: The Match-Up This is just a good-old fashioned solid matchup for the Cubs, as Tyler Anderson is lefty with traditional (and significant splits) going up against a team with some righties that just love feasting on southpaws: Versus Lefties: .231/.297/.383 (.295 wOBA)
Versus Righties: .274/.334/.472 (.343 wOBA) Javy Baez and Albert Almora are probably DYING to get back in there.
Reason #5: This Is a Good Offense I’m not going to use any statistics here, because we all know it’s true. The Cubs’ offense is absolutely loaded from top to bottom, featuring patience (Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber), contact skills (Zobrist, Almora, Addison Russell), power (Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, Javy Baez, Ian Happ), and everything in between. They are easily one of the top five offenses in baseball, and, frankly, have a shot to be the very best. They’re undoubtedly going through a slump right now, but you just can’t hold this team down for long. But if Tyler Anderson somehow finds a way to do so … I’ll just delete this post.