Cubs Week 5 awards: Pitchers finally pitching in

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Through the first month of the season, Cubs pitchers had been the worst in baseball. It was a trend that absolutely had to change if the Cubs wanted to remain competitive, and change it did: Cubs starters posted four quality starts and the bullpen did not allow a run during the week. Taking James Russell out of the equation--since he has hopefully been taken out of the rotation equation for good--here's what Cubs starters did this week in five starts:
34 IP, 26 hits, 11 ER (2.91 ERA) 
Their overall team ERA has improved to 4.53, taking them from last in the majors to 27th--not great but hopefully the start of a steady climb.

Unfortunately, the Cubs still went just 3-3 on the week, mostly because they did little to improve another stat in which they're near the bottom among major league teams: hitting with runners in scoring position. The Cubs stranded 25 men in the series against the Reds, going 4-for-24 w/RISP. The Cubs are 23rd in the majors in runs despite having the third-best average.

Ryno of the Week: It was Ryan Dempster who led the mound turnaround--he went seven innings twice this week and allowed just three runs. Perhaps most importantly, he did not walk anyone in 14 innings after the first two batters of the game back on Tuesday. He has a lot of work left to do, but he has whittled his ERA down to 7.20.

Honorable mention: Carlos Pena, who got off the schnide on Tuesday and proceeded to hit three home runs in four games.

Goat of the Week: It's a tough call between the two guys on the left side of the infield. Aramis Ramirez went just 4-for-22, but Starlin Castro, who is perhaps suffering from the dreaded Sports Illustrated jinx, had just two hits on the week. We know Castro will break out of it eventually, but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. 
Dishonorable mention: Ramirez

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  • Doesn't it feel like RISP #'s have consistently been a problem since the '08 season? I know offensive stats are down across the board, but the Cubs have been particularly not-clutch. Do you think RISP is the best measure of the problem? Am I wrong that to think this is much more of an issue for Cubs than other teams?

  • The Cubs were second-to-last in the NL in 2009, batting .241 w/RISP. They were 8th last year (.262), and this year they're batting .213. So yes, it's been a problem for a while.

    I think most sabermetricians would tell you there's no such thing as "clutch," that it's all random. But it sure is hard to believe after watching the Cubs the last three years that it's all random. It's like whenever guys get on base, the next guy up panics and is much less likely to get a hit. It doesn't make any sense, and it sure is frustrating.

    I guess the good news is that they can't hit .213 in those situations all year: the worst team the past two years was Arizona in 2009, and they hit .240.

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