To most Cubs fans, myself included, this season has far surpassed expectations. Entering the 2015 campaign, Cubs prospects like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell formed a legitimate basis for optimism within the organization and its fan base. But the fruits of Theo Epstein’s labor weren’t expected to ripen this fast. Well, ripen they have, and the 2015 Cubs find themselves on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for the first time since 2008. Indeed, Joe Maddon’s squad has Chicagoland dreaming of a 2015 World Series birth. Unfortunately, there are two notable barriers that may block the Cubs route to the Fall Classic, and they have names: Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks, known together as “the shitty duo.”
As suggested, the Cubs starting rotation depth is their most glaring concern heading into the 2015 playoffs. The shitty duo, comprising the Cubs projected third and fourth playoff starters, has degenerated down the stretch of the season. Since the all-star break, the shitty duo has struggled to string together respectable outings. If the shitty duo doesn’t markedly improve its performance, do the Cubs stand a strong chance of making it to the World Series? Recent history suggests not.
|National League Champion Third and Fourth Starting Playoff Pitchers||2nd Half ERA|
|2015 Chicago Cubs|
|Shitty Duo number 1 (Hammel)||5.43|
|Shitty Duo Number 2 (Hendricks)||5.29|
Data Extracted from Fangraphs
A pitcher’s second half of the season ERA (“second half ERA”) is more likely to have predictive value for the playoffs than his season long ERA. As such, the figure above displays the shitty duo’s second half ERA relative to that of the third and fourth starters on the last five national league champions. Remarkably, the last five national league champions didn’t have a single back end playoff starter with a second half ERA over 4.7. Further, three of the past five national league champions had third and fourth playoff starters with second half ERAs under 3.6. Thus, the shitty duo’s 5.355 collective second half ERA has to be disconcerting to Cubs fans.
The preceding analysis provides objective value to what baseball fans already know: a team needs excellent starting pitching to get to the World Series. To rebuff that axiom, the Cubs must deliver on at least one of the following two scenarios: 1). Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta pitch nearly flawless throughout the 2015 playoffs; or 2). the Cubs produce a lot of runs whenever either shitty duo partner takes the mound. Of course, the shitty duo could decide that sucking ass isn’t what it’s cracked up to be (pun intended) and start pitching better, but that seems unlikely.
Regardless of what transpires throughout the next month, the Cubs should continue to develop and improve over the coming years. On that note, I speak for Cubs nation when I say go Cubs and fuck the Cardinals!!!!