CHICAGO

Chicago Cubs keys to successful season: Pitching Consistency

A majority of the Chicago Cubs’ wins resulted in strong pitching from the starting rotation last season. The Cubs will need to replicate those performances if they’re to make it into the postseason and make a run in the playoffs.

Photo found at SI.com

(Part two of a series addressing factors that will lead to a successful 2019 season for the Chicago Cubs)

We’ve all seen what strong pitching can do for teams across the league. Look at the Red Sox, Yankees and Brewers among other teams with the multiple aces they put on the mound. When an offense fails to find ways to score, it’s up to the pitching staff to limit their opponent to minimal, if any, runs to get wins. The Chicago Cubs pieced it all together in 2016 by winning the World Series, a big part coming down to their starting five.

Aces need to be aces

Often times the Cubs tend to start out the season a little flat, which is to be expected. Their pitchers are getting back into a rhythm having only pitched a set amount of innings during spring training. They either look sharp out of the gate or they don’t last long in those first two or three starts. In three games against the Marlins to open last season, the Cubs won two, taking the series by scoring 19 runs compared to Miami’s 12.

For the most part, the Cubs settled in once April hit and started to pick up more wins as a result.

The most consistent pitcher across the board was Jon Lester as their top ace. He picked up at least two wins each month of the season and improved in June by winning five games. He backed that up with a 2.24 ERA, his best average in any month last year. Lester will take the mound for Opening Day on March 28 at the Texas Rangers.

Cole Hamels’ acquisition in late July made an immediate impact in August. He won four of his six games, averaging a .67 ERA and led the Cubs in strikeouts for a single month. Hamels was putting up numbers he hadn’t seen since his days in Philly where he won a World Series ring.

Supporting Cast

Perhaps not thought of as an ace by many due to his pitching style, Kyle Hendricks will be another pivotal player this season. “The Professor” got things going in the second half after a dip in the month of June (1-4 record). He closed out the season with a stellar couple months, winning seven of his nine games and helping push the Cubs’ late charge in September.

Perhaps the most inconsistent pitcher on the staff last year was Jose Quintana. While he got results in most months, winning three games in the months of April, May and July. A lot of that was due to the Cubs’ offense coming alive as “Q” had one of the highest ERA’s on the team.

Mike Montgomery started the year as a relief pitcher and took on the role as starter once Darvish went on the DL long-term. He didn’t earn many wins but was able to maintain a sub-4.00 ERA as a starter from June forward.

Mound domination

The most drastic statistic for each pitcher was how many punch-outs they recorded per month. They all averaged around 20 K’s per month with Hamels once again the outlier later in the season. Hamels recorded over 35 strikeouts in August and September, with no other starting pitcher on the staff recording more than 31. Quintana had a season full of highs and lows in terms of strikeouts, punching out as many as 34 in May and as few as 15 in July and back over 30 in September.

How it translates

Starting with April, the Chicago Cubs had a record of 14-9, half of those wins due to the starting pitching. In May, the Cubs had a record of 14-13 with 10 of those wins earned by the starting pitchers. In June, the Cubs had a record of 16-12 with eight of those wins earned by Lester, Hendricks and Montgomery. The Cubs had a record of 15-10 in July, with seven wins earned by the starting pitchers led by Quintana’s three. In August, the Cubs had a record of 18-10 with 12 wins earned by starting pitchers. Finally, in September, the Cubs had a record of 16-12 with 11 wins earned by starting pitchers. The Cubs lost both their games in October, ending their season.

While other factors were certainly in play, 59 percent of the Chicago Cubs’ wins in 2018 were earned by starting pitchers. 24 of their 95 wins were decided by two or fewer runs. If that doesn’t prove how important these pitchers are to the organization, I’m not sure what does.

 

Next key for success: Offensive output 

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

1 day ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE: The Unbreakables (154) - #RavensFlock | #Orioles | #terps | #TheRundown

Testing the stream from Restream
... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE w/ Delino Deshields Jr. (16:55) talking Cleveland baseball and a whole lot more. Who's ready to #RallyTogether? ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

No ketchup

Replay

1 week ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE: Vertical Horizons (153) - #RavensFlock | #Orioles | #terps | #TheRundown

Testing the stream from Restream
... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE w/ 6x CHAMP Miki Sudo and #8 competitive eater in the world Nick Wehry talking Nathan's Famous Hot Dot Eating Contest!

Presented by Shacknews!
... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

BIGPLAY

Play Ball? (E152) - #RavensFlock | #Orioles | Terps | #TheRundown ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

BIGPLAY

LIVE w/ the 1st ever FLOGSYs nominations for best and worst in Cleveland sports. Presented by Shacknews! ... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

John! Hope all is well dude.

Get your nominees in

agreed Tim

View more comments

3 weeks ago

BIGPLAY

Madden-ing (E151) - #RavensFlock | #Orioles | Terps | #TheRundown ... See MoreSee Less

To Top