Game 52 Recap: Padres 2, Cubs 1

What You Need To Know: Today’s mid-afternoon game was held at a 1-1 tie from the second inning until the bottom of the eighth. Jake Arrieta kept the Padres at bay, allowing five hits and one run. He also struck out seven over two walks. The Cubs were only able to muster three hits and one run. This loss is the team’s sixth straight loss and marks two straight series in which the Cubs were swept. Remarkably, Chicago is still within two games of first place.

Next Level: The Cubs Twitterverse was ablaze this morning. A Cubbies blog on a prominent network suggested that Kyle Schwarber should be sent to the minors. Schwarber still has options and given his struggles this season, I can see how that might initially seem like a reasonable solution. Currently, the 24-year-old is hitting .170/.291/.347 with a .231 TAv. Surprisingly, Schwarber is making greater contact with the ball compared to 2015.

Year Pitches Contact % Z-Contact % O-Contact %
2015 1153 65.63 72.58 54.95
2017 858 73.71 78.69 64.00

I did not include the 2016 season because he only saw 28 pitches. Despite the increase in contact, Schwarber is not hitting the ball hard. However, if we look at the rolling average of his exit velocity, the trend is positive.

Screenshot 2017-05-31 at 3.40.23 PM

He clearly has been in a slump. You don’t need any fancy stats to tell you that. But a .208 BABIP with minimal change in strikeout or walk rates might indicate some bad luck. That, coupled with the increase in contact rate and the simultaneous dip in exit velocity, are the likely culprits for Schwarber’s poor first half. Sending him to the minors won’t fix that. Time at the plate will.

Top WPA Play: In the bottom of the second, Arrieta gave up a homer to Ryan Schimpf. Arrieta was able to get Cory Spangenberg to fly out to left, but he quickly gave up a double to Erick Aybar. Aybar advanced to third on a wild pitch. Luis Torrens drew a walk to put runners on the corners. With two one and only one out, the Padres had the chance to blow this game wide open. However, Arrieta got Luis Perdomo to ground into a double play (+.122), ending both the threat and the inning.

Bottom WPA Play: In the bottom of the eighth, Koji Uehara started things off by striking out #OldFriend Matt Szczur. The victory on the mound was short lived. Franchy Cordero hit a triple off of Uehara in the next at-bat (-.183). This set up the next play that gave the Padres the lead and, eventually, the win.

Up Next: The Cubs have tomorrow off. They start a ten-game homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.

Lead photo courtesy Jake Roth—USA Today Sports

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