Series Wrap: Cubs Beat Cardinals Two Out of Three Behind Stout Pitching

For an early season series, this one definitely felt like a big rivalry. There were the boos, the sneers, the turning away of Cubs’ fans at Busch Stadium for wearing Joe Maddon themed “Try Not to Suck” shirts. This one felt rivalry-ish.

If the Cardinals didn’t want to acknowledge that the Cubs are their rivals before this series, they will have no problems with that idea going forward. Harkening back to last season, the Cubs knocked them out of the playoffs, signed two of their top players in the off-season and just went to their home field and took two of three games. And honestly, it looked like the Cubs might steal the third game too but fell short after scoring two runs immediately after the three hour and twenty-one minute rain delay.

Pitching matters

To say the Cubs pitching this year has been over-powering would be an understatement. Through fifteen games they have a 2.29 ERA and 2.67 FIP, both good enough for 2nd in the Majors. The stout pitching continued once again in this series as Cubs’ pitchers proved stingy when it came to giving up anything.

Here are the team pitching numbers for the series:

Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
John Lackey 7 4 0 0 1 11 0 0.00
Jason Hammel 6 5 1 1 0 6 0 1.00
Kyle Hendricks 5.1 7 4 4 2 5 1 4.50
Adam Warren 2 1 1 0 3 4 0 0.00
Trevor Cahill 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Clayton Richard 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Neil Ramirez 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Travis Wood 0.2 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Pedro Strop 1.1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0.00
Hector Rondon 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Totals 26 21 6 5 8 32 1 1.73

Kyle Hendricks got hit hard in his outing and gave up four runs. On a day where the Cubs are swinging their bats better, they have no problem overcoming four runs and they win that game too. So, to me, this is solid pitching that I would take in any three-game series and feel good about winning at least two, if not getting the sweep.

Over the three games the Cubs ERA was 1.73 and they gave up less than one hit per inning. The Cardinals needed twenty-one hits to squeak out six runs. That equates to a 3.5 HPR (hits per run) ratio. That’s exceptional pitching from top to bottom.

Hitting matters

While Cubs’ pitchers were owning the Cardinal batters, their hitters were having a hard time making hard contact. Everyone except Dexter Fowler, of course. Dex continues to crush opposing pitching (we wrote about it here) and is showing no signs of letting up. He got on base in every game and had a¬†.571 OBP for the series. His batting average in the series was .455 and he drove in one run and scored two (he had one home run).

It gives me comfort to know that the Cubs are able to go into the Cardinals home field and take two out of three while batting .194 as a team

For the year, Fowler is hitting .392/.523/.706. While it’d be unrealistic to expect Dex to continue to put up gaudy numbers like these all season, it’s fair to say that he has been the engine powering this team to an 11-4 record and that needs to be recognized.

Here are the team offensive numbers for the series:

Player AB H R RBI BB K BA OBP
Dexter Fowler 11 5 2 1 3 4 .455 .571
Jason Heyward 12 1 1 0 1 2 .083 .154
Ben Zobrist 10 2 2 0 2 2 .200 .333
Anthony Rizzo 10 2 1 2 1 0 .200 .333
Kris Bryant 12 3 1 2 0 1 .250 .250
Jorge Soler 7 0 1 0 1 5 .000 .125
Addison Russell 7 1 0 1 0 2 .143 .125
Miguel Montero 10 2 1 0 2 5 .200 .333
Tommy La Stella 3 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .250
Matt Szczur 3 0 1 0 0 1 .000 .000
Javier Baez 6 1 0 0 0 2 .167 .167
John Lackey 3 1 0 1 0 1 .333 .333
Jason Hammel 2 1 0 2 0 0 .500 .500
Kyle Hendricks 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000
Team Totals 98 19 10 9 11 27 .194 .279

The bottom line is that Cubs’ hitting isn’t where it should or will be this season. It gives me comfort to know that the Cubs are able to go into the Cardinals home field and take two out of three while batting .194 as a team. They scored ten runs off nineteen hits and that’s 1.9 HPR, which is slightly better than average but way better than the Cardinals 3.5 HPR. That tells me that the Cubs are getting good situational pitching and stellar defense (see Jason Heyward, defensive stud extraordinaire).

Sum it up

All in all, a very good series for the Cubs and a nice bounce back after losing two of three to the Rockies at home. The Cubs’ pitching continues to dominate, which is nice to see this early in the year. I do expect those numbers to rise once the weather starts to heat up but would expect the Cubs will stay at or near the top of the Majors in pitching.

Offensively, it’s obvious the Cubs need to step it up. That will come. With guys like Heyward, Bryant and Russell in the lineup, it’s only a matter of time before the runs start pouring in. We’ve already seen glimpses of it this season.

The Cubs are 2nd in the league in runs scored this season but are only 21st in average. Interesting stats when you consider they rank 12th in the league in home runs. So how are they doing it? They are getting clutch situational hitting. They lead the league in run scoring efficiency with a 1.44 HPR. Yep, that little ratio we’ve mentioned here a few times is helping to drive this team to the top of the league. If that continues, and the hitting picks up, this season is going to get really interesting, really fast.

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