Cubs finally making something out of quality starts
A sense of equilibrium has returned for Cubs starting pitchers.
At last, they're being rewarded for good performances.
The Cubs entered Wednesday night's rain-delayed 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park with a record of 16-16 when they get a quality start. That didn't change, as Jason Hammel failed to get a quality start, working 5 innings and giving up 11 hits and 4 runs.
The Cubs' record in quality-start games should be better, even with a team that has an overall record of 26-37. Last year, for example, a Cubs team that finished the season 66-96 was 20-12 after 32 games in which their pitchers turned in a quality start.
Even with a poor final record, the 2013 Cubs still went 52-38 when getting a quality start.
This year it's been quite different. In fact, the Cubs lost six quality-start games in a row from May 4-11. When that happens, either the offense doesn't score or the bullpen blows leads.
For the most part during that six-game drought, the offense failed, scoring a grand total of 10 runs in those games, or 1.67 per contest.
But things have turned around completely of late. Since May 17, the Cubs are 9-2 in quality-start games, with the offense scoring 48 runs in those 9 victories, or 5.3 per game.
Much of the thanks goes to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. In May, Rizzo had a hitting line of .255/.388/.479.
Rizzo has been even hotter at the start of June, going .375/.459/.781 for an OPS of 1.240. That brought his season line to an impressive .284/.406/.514 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI.
Shortstop Starlin Castro hasn't been too far behind. He had an OPS of .727 in April and was at .816 in May.
Hammel has 9 of the Cubs' quality starts, 1 behind team leader Jeff Samardzija.
Cubs sign top pick:
The Cubs have signed their first-round draft pick less than one week after selecting him.
Catcher-outfielder Kyle Schwarber out of Indiana University agreed to terms on a bonus of $3.125 million, or about $1.5 million less than the recommended "slot" money for the fourth pick overall in the first round. That theoretically should help the Cubs with signing their subsequent-round picks.
Schwarber has reported to the Cubs' Class A Boise affiliate, which opens play Friday.
The 21-year-old Schwarber had a line of .358/.464/.659 with 14 home runs for Indiana this season. The 6-foot, 235-pound Schwarber said last Thursday on draft day that he has "a passion" for catching but that he'd play where the Cubs want him to play.
Four more years:
The Cubs announced Wednesday that they had extended their player-development agreement with Class AA Tennessee through the 2018 season.
The extension will bring the affiliation to 12 seasons by the end of 2018. Since beginning their affiliation with the Cubs in 2007, the Smokies have participated in postseason play in five of seven seasons and have three times advanced to the Southern League Championship series.