MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

Stat Preview: Chicago Cubs, May 31 – June 3

Entering the opener of a four-game series in New York, the Cubs hold the best run differential among NL teams (+78). The Mets are still in the red at -16, but perhaps they will have some life after winning two of the last three to end their dismal road trip. The Cubs have played well over the last few weeks, but are still looking up at a 4.5 game gap from the Brewers for first place in the NL Central. Their offseason additions have had hit plenty of rough patches early on, and one of the bumpiest starts has come from the first player in this stats preview.

Chatwood’s Control and Sinker Struggles: Tyler Chatwood has struggled mightily with control this year – he’s walked more batters than he has struck out – but there are other concerns about his sinker. He throws the pitch nearly a third of the time, but he has the second lowest swing rate on the pitch (32%), the second lowest called strike percentage (46%) and the fourth worst called strikes per take (26%). The first-year Cub will line up against Zack Wheeler in Game 2 of the four-game set, so watch to see if his control and sinker effectiveness become an issue.

Schwarber’s Resurgence: For all those concerned about Kyle Schwarber’s mediocre 2017, he seems to have fixed what issues he had. His walk rate is at 16.9% (career 13.4%), his strike out rate is down to 24.2% (career 28.9%) and his TAv is .299 (career .283).

Carl’s Ks: Carl Edwards Jr. may have unlocked a new level of production, as he is striking out 14.4 batters per nine innings. Unlike many pitchers in the majors, he is throwing his fastball at a greater rate (77.6% up from 70% in 2017), which has worked well. He is getting swings and misses 37.4% of the time he throws the pitch, good enough for eighth among relievers.

Quick Hits

The Good: The Cubs lead the league in triples with 19. The Mets have nine.

The Bad: Ian Happ has struck out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances (39.3%).

The Ugly: Chatwood’s DRA is 8.15.

Mets Check-In

After Wednesday night’s game, the Mets will have completed exactly one-third of the season. Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report gives the Mets just an 11.5% chance to make the playoffs.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

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