The Vexing Inefficiency of Cubs Starting Pitchers, Chavez Brilliance, Community Goodness, and Other Bullets

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The Vexing Inefficiency of Cubs Starting Pitchers, Chavez Brilliance, Community Goodness, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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  • This, my good and dear friends, is abysmal:

  • The Cubs have been very fortunate to get so many effective innings (in results) from their up-and-down middle relievers, but I’m not sure you can expect that to last all season. Moreover, it is still a fundamental strain on the later-inning guys, where we’ve already seen significant time lost for Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow. God forbid the grind catch up with Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek, or the Cubs’ bullpen would really be toast.
  • For the most part, the story of the Cubs’ starting rotation isn’t just that they’ve given up a lot of early runs, which has led to earlier departures. It’s also that they’ve been exceptionally inefficient and prone to walks, which have crushed their pitch counts. Consider that it isn’t just Tyler Chatwood whose walk rate has ballooned. Jon Lester’s and Jose Quintana’s walk rates are both up significantly this year. Yu Darvish, when he pitched, also saw a huge spike in his walk rate. Only Mike Montgomery and Kyle Hendricks have kept a relative lid on the walks.
  • (It doesn’t help that the Cubs are the worst pitch-framing team in baseball, by far, according to BP’s framing runs metric … but that’s a topic big enough to warrant separate discussion.)
  • Speaking of Hendricks and efficiency, he wasn’t that guy last night, though he also didn’t strike me as wild. The strike zone map, despite how it felt during the game, is pretty unremarkable. That wasn’t a bad zone. Hendricks, though, had a ton of pitches juuuuuust outside the zone.
  • That can be an intentional strategy to net strikeouts, and certainly Hendricks got a whole lot last night. But it can also lead to deep counts and overall inefficiency. Of course, if the alternative is getting slapped when you come into the zone, then you have to pick your poison. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Hendricks barely gave up any hard contact last night.
  • For his part, though, Hendricks says the focus remains trying to get early bad contact ( “We’re talking about it with the whole staff in here – everybody, even the guys working behind the scenes – and trying to figure out if we’re falling into tendencies, patterns and what to do to get bad contact. We have to do better in the 1-1 count. Just getting outs on three pitches — that has to be the focus. It’s frustrating and a slower process than we hoped.”
  • Hey, so Jesse Chavez struck out the side last night, and looked great doing it. He’s pitched four pretty much perfect innings with the Cubs so far, and, just for fun, has been worth twice as much WAR with the Cubs (0.2) as in 56.1 innings with the Rangers (0.1).
  • Chavez also got to make his dancing debut last night, courtesy of Jason Heyward:

  • Anthony Rizzo keeps on doing good:

  • And so do the Cubs:

Author: Brett Taylor

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