Sunday brunch blog: Wood looks to keep quality going

Sunday brunch blog: Wood looks to keep quality going

Posted by Bruce on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 12:42

We’re blogging all over the place today, so we might get a little bit full with all we have to do on our Sunday brunch blog. I’m a guest today on WGN-TV’s Leadoff Man show, with Len Kasper. Len was nice enough to invite me to be a guest blogger on WGN’s Stats Sunday blog.

http://wgntv.com/2013/05/19/stats-sunday-quality-starts/

Today, Travis Wood goes for the Cubs against the Mets, and Wood has 8 straight quality starts to begin the season. He’s 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA, which is almost two-and-a-half runs better than the minimum-requirement quality start, that being no more than 3 earned runs in 6 innings. The Cubs are 16-10 when they get a quality start, and the starters have an ERA of 1.93 in those starts. When they don’t get a quality start, they’re 2-14, and the starters have an ERA of 6.80 in those starts.

I asked manager Dale Sveum if he looks at quality starts.

“It’s pushed in your face a lot,” he said. “It’s a great stat to be pushed in your face. But you hear about it because it’s a nice streak. For him (Wood), it’s just not been quality starts. They have been 7-8 innings of 1-run, knock on wood, and 2 runs, and just really, really pitching extremely, extremely well. When you look at it, you know it. I don’t need to know the stat. I’m witnessing it every five days.”

From the game notes: The last Cubs starter to begin a season with at least 9 straight quality starts is Mordecai Brown, who had 11 straight – all complete games – to begin the 1908 season (thanks to Ed Hartig for his research).

Wood is the first Cubs pitcher to record 8 straight quality starts at any point in season since Carlos Zambrano, June 6-July 13, 2007. The last Cubs pitcher to record at least 9 straight quality starts in a season is Steve Trachsel, who spun off 11-consecutive quality starts from June 5-August 9, 1994.

More stats from the notes: Anthony Rizzo yesterday hit his 10th homer of the season, including his fourth off a left-handed pitcher. The 4 homers off lefties are tied for the major league lead for any left-handed batter, joining Baltimore’s Chris Davis and the Yankees Robinson Cano.

Rizzo has not struck out in his last 39 at-bats dating to the sixth inning, May 7 vs. the Cardinals – that’s the second-longest active stretch in the majors without a strikeout. The Giants’ Hunter Pence leads the majors, having not struck out in his last 40 at-bats entering play today (thanks to STATS Inc.).

Scott Feldman yesterday pitched 6.2 shutout innings and drove in 2 runs en route to the victory. Elias Sports Bureau says that Feldman, 3-0 with 4 RBI in his last four starts, joins Zambrano (in 2003 and 2006) as the only two Cubs pitchers in the last 15 seasons to go 3-0 or better and drive in at least 4 runs in a 4-start span.

Sveum says the Carlos Villanueva is available out of the bullpen today. He was bumped from the rotation to make room for Matt Garza, who starts Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

“He’s very capable of doing anything because he’s got the repertoire,” Sveum said of Villanueva. “If you have a few righties coming up late in the game, he can pitch late in the game. You don’t have to worry about him walking guys with guys who are vulnerable to the breaking balls. Obviously, he’s built up to pitch very long. In the National League, he’s not your typical long guy where you sit there, and say, ‘We’ve got to save him in case our starter blows up in the first inning or gets beat up.’ You don’t do that with him. He’ll just be one of the guys. We don’t really have that so-called long guy that you just wait around for.”

As I’ve tweeted a couple times – follow me @BruceMiles2112 – David DeJesus has the best plate appearances of anybody on the Cubs. He is sixth in the National League at 4.17 pitches per plate appearance.

“It’s amazing,” Sveum said. “It seems like the stat would be 5 pitches instead of (4.17) pitches per at-bat. If you had to guess, you’d say it seems like he sees 7 pitches an at-bat. You’re talking about one of the better all-round leadoff hitters in the game right now. The OPS is pretty close to .900. It is over .900 against right-handed pitching. You can’t ask for anything more out of a leadoff guy than a .900 OPS.”

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

We’ll start with our friends, the Kane County Cougars, who blanked Cedar Rapids 4-0. Pierce Johnson, last year’s sandwich-round pick (43rd) overall, got the win, working 6 innings and giving up 6 hits. He walked one and struck out nine. He’s 2-3 with a 3.32 ERA. Rock Shoulders (best name in baseball) hit his ninth homer, and Oliver Zapata hit his third, going 3-for-4. Shoulders was 3-for-4. Dan Vogelbach was 2-for-4 with a double.

Class AAA Iowa committed 4 errors in a 4-2 loss to Tucson. Chris Rusin took the loss. He pitched 6.2 innings, giving up 5 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. He’s 2-4 with a 4.33 ERA. Ian Stewart (.138) was 2-for-4 with a double.

Class AA Tennessee picked up 15 hits in a 7-5 win at Chattanooga. Dallas Beeler got the win, working 6 innings and giving up 4 hits and 3 runs while walking two and striking out six. He’s 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Arsimendy Alcantara hit his fifth homer, as he went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles. Matt Szczur (.304/.367/.386) was 3-for-5 with a double. He has 8 multihit games in his last 10, going 20-for-48. Anthony Giansanti went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple.

Class A Daytona recorded 15 hits in a 6-5 win over Lakeland. Zach Cates got the win, working 5.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. He’s 4-4 with a 4.70 ERA. Ben Carhart hit his first homer. Javier Baez extended a hit streak to five games, during which he’s 8-for-22. He was 3-for-5 with a double Saturday. Jorge Soler was 2-for-4 with a walk. Dustin Geiger has a six-game hit streak, during which he’s 14-for-25. He was 2-for-5 Saturday with a double.

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