You’ve likely heard all about it by now: Kyle Hendricks is Cy Young at Wrigley Field and Joe Blow everywhere else.
Hendricks — can we stop referring to him as the Cubs’ No. 5 starter? — is 8-1 with a 1.19 ERA at home. He has the lowest WHIP (0.89) and the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.9-to-1) on the starting staff, and has surrendered only two home runs.
Yet on the road, he’s 2-6; the ERA more than triples to 3.75. The WHIP inflates to a staff-high 1.31, and the puny 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio brings up the rear as well. Away from the Friendly Confines, he is indeed a No. 5.
But guess what? All the Cubs’ starters are, for the most part, hitting the road as mere shadows of their home selves.
Jason Hammel is 6-1 with a sparkling 2.24 ERA at home. Elsewhere? A more run-of-the-mill 5-4, 3.80.
John Lackey has a 2.83 home ERA. That’s why the Cubs just had to have him, right? Unfortunately, the 4.68 road ERA reads like a real disappointment.
Jon Lester’s road numbers may be skewed by one utterly atrocious outing against the Mets, but the cold, hard facts say his road ERA of 4.03 is more than twice his sweet-home 1.99.
And then there’s Jake Arrieta — 8-2 on the road, much more impressive than his 4-3 record in his own backyard. The lone exception? Not even. Arrieta is far stingier at home, where he has a 1.71 ERA and has yet to serve up a gopher ball. His other road numbers — 3.66 ERA, eight homers allowed — are nothing special.
By itself, the Hendricks story line is quirky. Bigger picture, the Cubs starting staff has a home-road story that isn’t entirely comforting.
Up: It sure was exciting two weeks ago when — in his first at-bat after a 27-game absence — Dexter Fowler homered in Milwaukee. Fowler hasn’t been tearing the cover off the ball since, but he has been wonderfully steady in his leadoff role. He has scored at least one run in six consecutive games.
Down: Ten bucks says you can’t name the last Cub to hit a home run. Hello? Anybody?
It was David Ross, in last Friday’s series opener against the Mariners. Since then, the team has gone homerless in five straight games — the first time in over a year that has happened to the Cubs. It’s also their first five-game homerless streak at Wrigley Field since August of 2014.
Down: Kris Bryant’s power has gone missing. Well, relatively speaking. At June’s end, Bryant had 22 home runs in 298 at-bats, a rate of one launched every 13.5 at-bats. Since then, he has four homers in 103 at-bats, or one per 25.7 at-bats.
But that’s nothing compared to Bryant’s RBI drop-off — he had 60 by the end of June, but has only eight since and has fallen out of the top 10 in the N.L. in this category.
1 THROUGH 9
1. Cubs: They’re coming off a 7-1 homestand in which they allowed two or fewer runs in five of those victories. Recent ninth-inning heroics added serious kick to an already potent mix.
2. Nationals: In the Cubs’ shadow all season, they’re continuing to put together a comparable résumé. Opponents have managed only 20 runs over the last eight games.
3. Blue Jays: They’ve surrendered the fewest runs in the A.L. and are the only team with winning records against each A.L. division, plus interleague foes.
4. Orioles: Win four straight; lose four straight. Win five straight; lose five straight. The streaky O’s are (somewhat) hot again, but will it last?
5. Indians: They’re 5-8 against the last-place Twins and 11-1 against the second-place Tigers. Because that totally makes sense.
6. Giants: Perhaps they should be lower in light of their sorry 5-13 mark since the All-Star break. Then again, it’s an even-numbered year so, you know, the World Series is already over.
7. Rangers: How is it possible that the team with the best record in the A.L. has — 100-plus games in — a run differential hovering around zero? That’s one crazy intersection.
8. Tigers: Bad news: Their eight-game winning streak was snapped Thursday by the White Sox. Good news: No dates with the Indians for another seven weeks.
9. Dodgers: Ex-Cub Rich Hill, acquired this week, has bubbled back up as a heck of a starting pitcher. He’s just what this team needs (until he gets hurt, as all Dodgers pitchers do).
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