Chicago Cubs Walk Off: A Roller Coaster of a Week Sees Cubs Overcome Injury Bug

Mike Tauchman showed some uncharacteristic power last week, belting three home runs, including a game tying 3-runner in Boston.
Mike Tauchman showed some uncharacteristic power last week, belting three home runs, including a game tying 3-runner in Boston. / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs performance last week was filled with highs and lows. After sweeping the Houston Astros, the team dropped two of three in Boston to end the week at 4-2. The positive week put them just half a game behind the Brewers for first place and created some distance from the Reds. Currently, the Cubs are 2.5 games ahead of the Reds for second place.

This week saw the IL list become much more crowded for the Cubs. SP Jordan Wicks went to the IL with a forearm issue, CF Cody Bellinger crashed into the ivy at Wrigley and fractured two ribs, and Kyle Hendricks had a case of not-pitching-very-well.

Talking to, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said, "We’re sort of pushing that depth. Having some of the young players come up and contribute, I think, is really valuable. And if they can have some success, I think that’ll carry us a long way throughout this season, because we’re going to need their contributions throughout."

However, Manager Craig Counsell was able to tap into the farm system with names like CF Pete Crow Armstrong, RP Daniel Valencia and SP Hayden Wesneski to keep the positive momentum rolling for the Cubs.

On The Mound

Cubs pitching had another excellent week with very few exceptions. As a team, the Cubs pitching numbers are a bit mysterious. According to, they are in the bottom half of the league in most metrics:
- 19th in ERA
- 16th in strikeouts
- 20th in WHIP
- 16th in batting average against

But the Cubs are 11th in maybe the only metric that matters - Earned Runs. This metric is why they keep on winning even though the stats don't necessarily fly off the page.

The starters were basically exceptional last week:

  • Wicks gave up 2 in six innings.
  • SP James Taillon gave up 1 in 5.2 innings.
  • SP Javier Assad gave up 1 in 5. 2 innings.
  • SP Shota Imanaga was the first starter to go into the 7th inning with 6.1 innings and one run
  • After pitching a scoreless 2.1 innings in relief, Wesneski started on short rest against Boston and gave up 1 earned run in four innings. That runner would not have scored if not for some bad luck when a routine ground ball hit third base, taking away an easy out.
  • RP Mark Leiter, Jr. pitched 1.2 scoreless innings before giving up his first run of the season in the bottom of the ninth against Boston, bad timing for the Cubs.
  • RP Hector Neris had two saves.
  • RP Keegan Thompson pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and is the lone pitcher with a 0.00 ERA left on the Cubs.
  • RP Adbert Alzolay pitched a scoreless inning, though he still has not been trusted with high leverage work in a couple of weeks.
  • Palencia pitched 2 scoreless.

The Cubs only had one rough game last week when Boston beat them 17-0. SP Ben Brown, who had pitched a scoreless inning in relief earlier in the week, gave up three runs in three innings - his first tough start in the last three outings. RP Luke Little then blew the game open, giving up five runs in just two outs and was subsequently sent back down to AAA. DH Patrick Wisdom pitched a scoreless out with a strikeout.

RP Yency Almonte remains very much an enigma. After pitching a scoreless/hitless 1.1 innings against the Astros, he gave up 2 runs in one inning against Boston.

In the Batter's Box

The Cubs didn't light up the scoreboard last week, but they did enough to win four. The Cubs scored seven runs in the Astros and Boston openers, then averaged around four runs the rest of the week. Pretty good numbers, especially against Boston who leads the league in ERA. Based on's stats, the Cubs are:

  • 13th in batting average (down two spots from last week)
  • 14th in home runs (down four)
  • 7th in RBI's (up one)
  • 7th in runs (down one)
  • 9th in OBP (unchanged)
  • 12th in slugging, (down five)
  • 10th in OPS (down three)

With Bellinger and RF Seiya Suzuki on the IL, the Cubs power numbers are down. For example, last week's home run leader was OF Mike Tauchman who hit three dingers (as well as raised his average to .294). Crow-Armstrong got his first hit of his career with a home run and finished the week with four RBI's.

Similar to the pitching numbers, there are only a couple of metrics that pragmatically matter when it comes to wins. You have to score more runs than the other team (RBI's and runs) and to score runs you have to have men on base (OBP)

With Cubs sluggers still on the bench for a couple more weeks, they really need help from LF Ian Happ, 2B Nico Hoerner, 3b Christopher Morel, and SS Dansby Swanson. Morel's defense has been exceptionally spectacular, but he is mired in a horrible slump with an average down to .210 with a .636 OPS. Likewise, Happ has not found his power mojo yet batting .229 with a .672 OPS.

Hoerner is back where at his career levels with a .282 average and a .728 OPS. Dansby Swanson is never going to light up the offensive statistics, but now would be a really great time to get hot.

Scouting Report

The next couple of weeks are going to test Counsell's roster management skills. SP Justin Steele can't come back fast enough now that three Cubs starters are on the IL. Squeezing out the most offensively from Crow-Armstrong, 1B Michael Busch (who has also been fantastic defensively), DH Matt Mervis and fixing Morel and Happ are high on the priority list.

The Cubs are six games into 16 games in a row where they play the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers this week. The Mets hit a lot of home runs but are middle of the road in most offensive categories which bodes well for the Cubs pitching staff. The Mets pitching staff has a solid ERA (3.94), but they give up quite a bunch of runs in general (23rd in earned runs) and they are 17th in WHIP. If the Cubs continue with their success in situational hitting, it should be a good series for them.

However, the Brewers are top 10 (if not top 5) in almost every offensive category. However, their pitching staff is 20th in ERA, 23rd in WHIP, and 19th in batting average against. The Cubs will need to pile on the runs to keep the pressure off their own pitching staff.