6/5/13 – How Bad is the Cubs Bullpen?

After Tuesday night’s bullpen loss for the Cubs, I looked for a way to put in into perspective just how bad the Cubs bullpen is this year.  But first, I wanted to talk about how great the starting pitching has been, to show just how much the bullpen has taken away. The starters are tied for 8th in the majors with 34 quality starts (at least 6 innings and no more than 3 earned runs). The starters have given up 211 earned runs this year, 9th best in the league. The only teams that have given up fewer are the Cardinals, Braves, Reds, Pirates, Nationals, Royals, Rangers, and Tigers. Of those eight teams, four of them are in first place and two more lead in the wild card standings.

Now, lets look at the bullpen. Here is each statistic and the Cubs’ rank in each category amongst the entire major leagues.

Statistic Value Rank
Decisions 16 11th
Winning Percentage 0.438 21st
ERA 4.32 24th
Holds 18 26th
Walks/9 innings 3.9 22nd

But, I think the stat that best sums up the inability of the Cubs bullpen is WPA or Win Probability Added. Win Probability Added measures how each play that a player made affected the outcome of a game. The Cubs bullpen WPA is -4.12, dead last in the league, with only 12 teams having a WPA less than zero. To put this in perspective, a “+1” WPA equates to one win added. So, a -4.12 means that the Cubs bullpen has taken over four wins away from the team. Unfortunately for the Cubs, this only looks to get worse if Kevin Gregg and his 1.31 WPA gets traded at the deadline.


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