The Cubs are on a six-game winning streak going back to the game before the All-Star break. Six is the longest active streak in the majors which makes the Cubs the hottest team in the league. Two of those wins are against the Pirates (second sweep of the year), a 3-game sweep against the Phillies (first sweep of the year), and a game against the Mets. So pretty decent teams. In the case of the Pirates, it could help them overtake the Pirates for third place in the NL Central.
Did something change to cause such great fortunes? In the last two Cubs Scorecard articles we talked about a myriad of reasons that the Cubs are looking better despite the record. Beating good teams, clutch hitting and driving in runs, and introducing young prospects to the lineups are just a couple examples on why the Cubs have increasingly looked better and better each week. It is also why Cubs fans are loathe to give away Willson Contreras and Ian Happ. Couldn’t these be building blocks for a house that is really starting to take shape? Does the house really need to be burned all the way to the ground? Don’t we need some leadership left on the team.
Regardless, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the Cubs win streak.
During the six-game stretch, the Cubs are hitting .284. This metric is 40 points above the Cubs season average and would be first in MLB, in front of the Toronto Blue Jays at .267. The hitting wasn’t just to get people on base, though, it was the production that mattered. The Cubs scored 31 runs, equating to 6.2 runs per game. That is almost 2 full runs more than their average which stands at 4.3 runs/game. Again, this would put them in first place, in front of the New York Yankees at 5.3 runs/game.
Hitting standouts included Happ and Suzuki with a four-hit game, Hoerner had 3 multi-hit games, and Happ had another multi-hit game.
The Cubs really came out to play. Not only did they hit the ball for clutch RBI’s but they used the long ball as well. The Cubs averaged 1.8 home runs/game during the stretch where their average on the season was 1.2. Nelson Velazquez hit three home runs during this period, Yan Gomes had a two-home run game and Nico Hoerner and contributed one as well. 1.8 home runs per game would just edge out the Yankees for the number 1 spot at 1.7 dingers/game.
During this stretch, Cubs pitching gave up three runs only once, the 4-3 win over the Phillies. They gave up only 2 runs in every other game. The Cubs held the opposition down to a 1.76 ERA, which easily is MLB leading over the Dodgers 2.97 ERA.
One of the key ways that the Cubs kept the opposing run production down was limiting the long ball. In three of the six games, the Cubs gave up no homeruns, in two games they gave up 1 home run and only gave up 2 in one game. The home run metric showed as .6 HR/game, half of the yearly average which stands at 1.31 dingers/game. Again, easily they would be top in MLB, ahead of the Giants who stand at .79 home runs/game.
The starting rotation continued to give the Cubs a chance to win, but the relief pitching was completely lights out during this stretch. This is how the games played out:
- Against the Mets, Adrian Sampson went 5.1 innings, giving up 2 with the relief giving up 0.
- In the first Phillies game, Justin Steele went 5 innings giving up 1 with the relief giving up 1 run.
- In the second Phillies game, Marcus Stroman pitched six innings giving up 1, and the relief gave up 1 run.
- In the third Phillies game, Drew Smyly went 6 innings giving 2 (1 earned) and the relief gave up 1 run.
- In the first Pirates game, Sampson pitched seven innings giving up 2 (1 earned) and the relief gave up 0.
- In the second Pirates game, Keegan Thompson went 7 innings giving up 2 runs (0 earned) and the relief gave up 0.
If you are on a win streak, you are doing something right. In the Cubs situation, they are doing everything right. The hitting is timely, clutch, and phenomenal. The pitching is ridiculous and shows no indication of stopping. The Cubs have the day off and now go into a tough road trip with three against San Francisco and three against St. Louis. Let’s see how far this win streak stretches.