Central Intelligence

Week 2: Cubs continue to roll, Cardinals heating up

The Cubs are off to their best start since 1969, and are 9-3 after two weeks. The Cardinals are starting to gain some momentum, as they’ve won 7 of their last 8 games. The Pirates have lost 6 of 9, but they are coming off a series win over the weekend against the Brewers. The Reds have lost 5 of 6 after their 5-1 start, and have fallen to .500.

Chicago Cubs 9-3
St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 2.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 2.5 GB
Cincinnati Reds 6-6 3.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 5-7 4.0 GB

Chicago Cubs

Russell

The Cubs finally lost their first series of 2016 over the weekend against the Rockies. Other than that, everything is going right for the Chicago Cubs. They are off to their best start since 1969. They are 9-3 on the season, and have a run differential of +40. The Cubs team ERA of 2.46 is the second best in the MLB, and their 115 team wRC+ is sixth in the MLB.

Dexter Fowler is off to a tremendous start. He is the only position player in the MLB to be worth a full win (1.0 fWAR). He is hitting .417/.553/.722 with 2 HR and 9 runs scored. Fowler didn’t re-sign with the Cubs until late February. He had reportedly signed a multi-year contract with the Orioles, and even got a congratulatory text from Anthony Rizzo for signing with the O’s. Fowler declined a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Cubs in November, but ended up signing back with the Cubs for a one-year, $8 million deal in February. What a steal for the Cubs.

Jake Arrieta has picked up right where he left off from his Cy Young season last year. Through his first three starts he has a 1.23 ERA/2.77 FIP. He has 20 strikeouts and only 2 walks.

The Cubs will begin next week by traveling to St. Louis for their first series of 2016 against the Cardinals.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jorge Soler: .400/.476/.800, 2 HR, 6 R, 210 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Ben Zobrist: .056/.217.056, 1 for 18, -9 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:09), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) at Cardinals
  • Thurs (7:10), Fri (7:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (7:10) at Reds

Milwaukee Brewers

Chris+Carter+wlwFHIctt-Km

The Brewers are now 5-7 after the first two weeks. Their team ERA and FIP of 4.97/5.25 are both the 4th worst in the MLB. Their offense hasn’t been much better either, as their team 79 wRC+ is the 8th worst in the MLB.

The Brewers have to be happy with their new starting pitcher Chase Anderson. They got Anderson over the offseason in the Jean Segura deal. Anderson has yet to allow an earned run through his first two starts (11.0 IP, 0 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 9 K).

It should be a fairly easy upcoming week for the Brewers. They’ve got the struggling Twins (3-9) and the Phillies (6-7).

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Chris Carter: .294/.400/.647, 1 HR, 170 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Scooter Gennett: .118/.318/.118, 2 for 17, 6 K, 25 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:10), Tues (1:10) at Twins
  • Wed (8:10), Tues (1:40) vs Twins
  • Fri (8:10), Sat (7:10), Sun (2:10) vs Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates-Tigers-Marte

The Pirates have struggled since their sweep of the Cardinals to begin the season. They’ve lost 6 of their last 9 games. Their pitching has really let them down early in the season. They have a team ERA of 4.11 (16th in the MLB), and a team FIP of 4.72 (23rd in the MLB).

The Pirates offense has been pretty good though. Their team 113 wRC+ is tied for the 7th best in baseball. The Pirates outfield has been as good as advertised. McCutchen (118 wRC+), Marte (161 wRC+), and Polanco (128 wRC+) are all off to great starts.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Starling Marte: .400/.438/.633, 1 HR, 3 SB, 189 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Juan Nicasio: 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 4 K, 12.00 ERA, 9.80 FIP, -0.1 fWAR

This Week

  • Tues (10:10), Wed (10:10), Thurs (9:10) at Padres
  • Fri (9:40), Sat (8:10), Sun (4:10) at Diamondbacks

St. Louis Cardinals

hazelbaker

The Cardinals are starting to roll. They’ve won 7 of their last 8 games. They will look to get back into the NL Central race as they host the Cubs to begin next week. That will be a big early test for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals offense has been lead by two surprising players. Outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker has hit .406/.432/.844 with 3 HR, 221 wRC+, and 0.7 fWAR. Hazelbaker was a fourth round draft pick from 2009, but he wasn’t even in the Cardinals top 30 prospects heading into the season.

The other young contributor for the Cardinals is Aledmys Diaz. He was supposed to be the Cardinals SS of the future, but he got rushed along after Ruben Tejada with down due to injury. Diaz is hitting . 406/.424/.813 with 2 HR, 222 wRC+, and 0.7 fWAR. If Diaz keeps hitting the Cardinals will have a good problem to have when Tejada comes back, and then Jhonny Peralta later in the summer.

Jamie Garcia threw a 1-hit complete game shutout on Thursday against the Brewers. Garcia had 10 K and just 1 BB in the game. The Cardinals are hoping this is finally the year that he can stay healthy. Garcia has the capability to be a really great starter.

Who’s Hot (last 7 days): Jamie Garcia: 1 GS, 9.0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 FIP, 0.6 fWAR
Who’s Cold (last 7 days): Kolten Wong: .059/.053/.059, -79 wC+, -0.4 fWAR

This Week:

  • Mon (8:09), Tues (8:15), Wed (1:45) vs Cubs
  • Fri (10:40), Sat (8:40), Sun (4:40) at Padres

 Nick’s Power Rankings

  1. Chicago Cubs

  2. St. Louis Cardinals ↑1

  3. Pittsburgh Pirates ↓1

  4. Cincinnati Reds

  5. Milwaukee Brewers


Players of the Week

Pitcher: Jamie Garcia, Cardinals: 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 0.58 FIP, 0.6 fWAR

Batter: Randal Grichuk, Cardinals, .353/.560/.824, 2 HR, 1 SB, 250 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR

 

All statistics only include games played through 4/16/16, and used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index). 

9 thoughts on “Week 2: Cubs continue to roll, Cardinals heating up

  1. Fowler has a $5mil buyout too. Making it a one year $13 mil deal. But still a bargain…

    • Has Fowler really answered the question anywhere publicly about what happened this off season?
      Turns down a qualifying offer from the Cubs. Finally gets a multi-year offer from the Orioles. Reports everywhere that he accepted that deal, then all of a sudden he has signed a 1-year deal with the Cubs for less than the original qualifying offer was for?
      Would be interesting to hear about what really happened behind the scenes there.

  2. Some early on interesting intradivisional comparative stuff. The Pirates have played 6 games versus the alleged two soft touches and are only 3-3 while the Cubs are 3-0 and Cards 4-2 versus the “softies”.

    On the other side of the ledger, the Pirates swept the Cards (without which their start would be a disaster).

  3. Fowler’s WAR is inflated by the fact that defense isn’t tied in yet, only the defensive positional adjustment. He’s been a below-average fielder pretty much always, so we’ll expect his WAR to drop once the site incorporate this year’s fielding data.

    Still, what a steal. I honestly can’t believe he didn’t get a 3yr 55m type deal from someone.

  4. No where to post this, so I’ll post it here…

    Bryce Harper is slugging .897, which is 79 points higher than the guy in 2nd. Harper has neither a wacky BABIP (.267) nor a wacky HR/FB% (28.6%). I find this to be insane.

    Sorry for the off-topic.. as a baseball fan this just amazes me.

    • Who’s protecting Harper? Old men Zimmerman or Werth? I have Harper on one of my fbb teams but expect him to start being walked at Bonds level here shortly! He might get 15-20 steals though?

  5. Wainwright looks terrible and Wacca’s velocity was down yesterday. Garcia’s always hurt as well? Holiday made Adam Duvall look like a track star when he was lugging after all those doubles on Saturday. Despite their holes St. Louis/Pitt always seem to find a way to win a lot of games but the Cubs win this division by 10+ games. I haven’t looked but Feliz was a good pickup for the Bucs….we should’ve got him! Cards have the late innings under control too. If the Reds can fix the pen then they’re every bit as good as these 2 in my book.

    • Agree with you about the Reds as currently constituted. The issue as I see it is that their position side will be out of kilter with their pitching in terms of age, cost, and team control if they hang on to Bruce, Cozart, Phillip, and maybe even Meso till they age out/ contracts end. It would be sad to see the current crop of young pitchers at their zenith with the position side was going through the kind of reorganization the pitching is currently experiencing. Such things will likely never be in an ideal unison; but they need to find more balance than they have now.

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