Tyler Chatwood

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

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USA TODAY

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

Welcome to “Who Knew?”, a weekly roundup of fun statistical oddities and fun facts in Chicago Baseball. Every Monday, I'll dig into the previous week’s games (Monday-Sunday) to present a collection of things you may not have noticed and answers to questions you may have never thought to ask.   Let’s get started!

Double Digit Delight

Monday at Oakland, Reynaldo López recorded ten punchouts, the first 10+ K game by a White Sox pitcher this season. Prior to López, the last Sox hurler to reach double-digits was Lucas Giolito back on Sept. 3, 2016 against the Rays.

So, as it stands, the last two White Sox 10+ K games were by pitchers acquired in the same Dec. 7, 2016 trade:

Reynaldo López, Lucas Giolito & Dane Dunning acquired from Nationals for Adam Eaton.

Also interesting about the López & Giolito games – each of the last two 10+ K games by White Sox pitchers have been by righties. Prior to Giolito, each of the Sox’ previous 48 10+ K games had been by southpaws (all by Sale, Danks, Quintana and Rodón). The previous 10+ K game by a White Sox righty had been Jake Peavy April 14, 2013.

(Un)Lucky Seven?

Tuesday at Wrigley Field, Tyler Chatwood posted a rare statline:

4.2 IP, one hit, two runs, seven walks, seven strikeouts.

It was a fairly good job of damage control, all things considered. And it was the first time a Cubs pitcher posted seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts since Kerry Wood did it twice – two months apart – in 2001. 

But Chatwood did it while allowing only one hit. The last time a Cubs pitcher allowed seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts with one or fewer hits allowed? 

Burt Hooton’s no-hitter (with seven walks and seven strikeouts) April 16, 1972.

Go On, Yoán

Wednesday was another wild one at the Oakland Coliseum. The White Sox used 10 pitchers in a game for the first time in their 118-year history, but let’s focus on Yoán Moncada.

It was his second game in a row with a home run and a stolen base, something no White Sox player had accomplished two games in a row since Ray Durham in September 1998.

Furthermore, Moncada’s home run on Wednesday was a grand alam.  At age 22 years, 326 days, he is the youngest Sox player to hit a 4-run 4-bagger since Kevin Bell (20 years, 345 days) on June 22, 1976. But since Bell’s was an inside-the-park home run (and the first homer of his career), you could go even further back and say Moncada is the youngest Sox player to hit a grand slam over the fence since Carlos May (age 21 years, 16 days) on June 2, 1969.

Overall, he’s the fifth youngest player in White Sox history to hit a grand slam.

20 years, 198 days Johnny Callison September 26, 1959 at Detroit
20 years, 345 days        Kevin Bell   June 22, 1976 at Kansas City
21 years, 16 days   Carlos May    June 2, 1969 at Boston
22 years, 115 days      Bibb Falk May 22, 1921 vs Washington
22 years, 326 days Yoán Moncada April 18, 2018 at Oakland
22 years, 331 days    Carlos Lee May 17, 1999 vs Cleveland (off Bartolo Colón!)

Double Duty

Friday, James Shields started the game after relieving in the 14th inning of the previous game.

He was the first White Sox pitcher to start:

  • after relieving the previous game since Matt Albers on July 23, 2016
  • after relieving and finishing the previous game since Gene Nelson April 29, 1986
  • after relieving the previous game with a decision in both since Tom Seaver May 9, 1984

       (Seaver earned a Win in the completion of a 25 inning marathon prior to his win in the May 9 start) 

Thanks to STATS LLC for the Nelson/Seaver notes.

Big start for Báez

166 players have at least 15 hits this season (entering Monday, April 23).

Of those 166, here are the highest percentage of extra-base hits:

Player Hits Extra Base Hits Percent
Javier Báez 21 15 71.4 percent
A.J. Pollock  20  14 70 percent
Eric Thames  15 10 66.7 percent
Gregory Polanco      15 10 66.7 percent
Didi Gregorius  22 14 63.6 percent

The extra-base output for Báez isn’t just confined to home runs. He has seven home runs and three triples through the Cubs’ first 19 games this season.

Through the team’s first 19 games of a season:

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and three home runs since Ernie Banks (three of each) in 1964

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and six home runs since Andy Pafko (three triples, six home runs) in 1951

He’s the ONLY Cub to have three triples and seven home runs since at least 1900!

His 23 RBI is the highest total by a Cub since Billy Williams (26) in 1970

Two of a kind

On Sunday, José Quintana became the first Colombian-born pitcher to reach 1,000 career strikeouts. Next to do it will most likely be the Braves’ Julio Teherán.  But take a minute to compare the two pitchers:

José Quintana 1,004 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2012
Julio Teherán 887 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2011

Going Forward

The Cubs are 10-9 this season and have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9.  Back in 2011, they continued the pattern all the way to 10-10.

That’s as far as they have ever gone, and they have been in the National League since 1876.  We’ll keep our eyes out for that. 

Until next week…

Tyler Chatwood channels his inner Greg Maddux with an absolutely gross pitch

Tyler Chatwood channels his inner Greg Maddux with an absolutely gross pitch

The Cubs retired No. 31, but you can't blame somebody if they were seeing things and mistook a "2" for a "3." (It also could've been the 29-degree windchill distorting things.)

Wearing his No. 21 jersey, Tyler Chatwood gave fans flashbacks to Greg Maddux in the first inning of Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals.

As Cubs manager Joe Maddon and GM Jed Hoyer spoke pregame about how difficult it may be for a pitcher to get a good grip on a pitch in such frigid conditions, Chatwood looked like that wouldn't be an issue early on.

The Cubs starter struck out the first two Cardinals he faced, including Tommy Pham on this incredibly wicked two-seam fastball:

Seriously, that's just not fair.

Shades of Maddux?

Chatwood went on to display that lack of feel, because you know, baseball. He walked the next batter and doled out free passes to five of the first 11 Cardinals that came up to the plate. He finished with seven walks and seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

But that one pitch? That will be replayed over and over and over again, and for good reason.

Do the 2018 Cubs have the best starting rotation in Chicago baseball history?

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USA TODAY

Do the 2018 Cubs have the best starting rotation in Chicago baseball history?

Over the next few years, we could be heading into the golden era of Chicago baseball.

The Cubs have won more games than any team over the last three years, they've been to three straight National League Championship Series, and they won the World Series in 2016. On the South Side, the White Sox have compiled one of the top-rated farm systems in game, making the future bright on both sides of town.

But looking back on some of the golden eras of the past, here's a question: Do the 2018 Cubs have the best starting rotation in the history of Chicago's two major league franchises?

Before you start arguing back and forth, we need to look back at the history and base our opinions on some facts. I've been digging into the archives with our stats guru, Chris Kamka. We found six rotations to stack the 2018 Cubs up against for fun: three from the North Side and three from the South Side. The best of the best. Let's start with the old school.

1907 Cubs

For 108 years Cubs fans heard about 1908, but it's the 1907 Cubs rotation that we are focusing on. Jack Pfiester, Carl Lundgren, Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall and Ed Reulbach each won at least 14 games. Pfiester is the only one who didn't win 17 or more games. They led the Cubs to their first World Series win, and all five pitchers in the rotation had an ERA under 2.00. The Cubs were 107-45 on the season.

1920 White Sox

Wins might not be the best way to evaluate pitching performance anymore, but it's still part of the equation. The 1920 White Sox have something that only one other rotation in the history of the game can claim: They had four 20-game winners in Red Faber (23-13), Eddie Cicotte (21-10), Lefty Williams (22-14) and Dickey Kerr (21-9). Here's the knock on the 1920 Sox: They finished in second place while Cicotte and Williams were banned after the season for being part of the Black Sox Scandal of 1919.

1983 White Sox

Yes, '83. "Winning Ugly" was the rally cry, but the Sox had three starters who were just flat-out winning. LaMarr Hoyt, Richard Dotson and Floyd Bannister combined to go 42-5 with an ERA of 2.55 in 53 starts after the All-Star break. That run included 17 complete games. Relievers weren't used nearly as often back then, but it's still eye-popping. Hoyt (24-10, 3.66 ERA) won the Cy Young Award that year, while Dotson (22-7, 3.23) was equally impressive.

2003 Cubs

There's no shortage of accusers who think manager Dusty Baker might have overused his starting pitchers. The 2003 Cubs are one of only two NL teams since 2000 to have four pitchers compile 200 innings or more. The other is Baker's 2012 Cincinnati Reds team. Dusty rode his "horses" because they were good. Kerry Wood (3.20 ERA), Mark Prior (2.43 ERA), Carlos Zambrano (3.11 ERA) and Matt Clement (4.11 ERA) were third in the NL in earned run average. Wood and Prior were just the fourth duo in NL history to each record more than 240 strikeouts in the same season. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling (twice) are the others. The knock on the '03 Cubs? They fell short.

2005 White Sox

If "being the best" only included rotations pitching in the postseason, this debate would be much easier. The 2005 world champion White Sox set the standard. They are the only team ever to have four complete games in an LCS. In fact, they are the only team with four complete games in any postseason series since the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series. Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez ranked fourth in the majors in regular-season ERA. When it counted most, they were historically good.

2016 Cubs

Billy goats be gone. Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA), Jon Lester (2.44 ERA), Jake Arrieta (3.10 ERA), John Lackey (3.35 ERA) and Jason Hammel (3.83 ERA). Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer built the world champion Cubs by stockpiling young bats, but when it came time to end the curse, their starting pitching was unmatched in franchise history. Hendricks and Lester were the first pair of Cubs pitchers to finish 1-2 in the majors in ERA since 1938, when Bill Lee and Charlie Root did it. And behind them was Arrieta, the 2015 Cy Young winner. Cubs starters combined to post a 2.96 ERA. The pitcher who led the American League was 0.04 points higher. Good luck trying to top that.

Other Cy Young winners

Awards can help identify greatness. Chicago boasts six more Cy Young Award winners that we have yet to mention: Early Wynn (1959), Fergie Jenkins (1971), Bruce Sutter (1979), Rick Sutcliffe (1984), Greg Maddux (1992) and Jack McDowell (1993). The problem for these six star pitchers is that we are looking for the best full rotation. These pitchers were individually great, but one through five on the staff wasn't as good as some of the others listed above.

2018 Cubs

Where will they fall in Chicago baseball history? For now, all we can do is guess, but it will take some fantastic numbers to make this list.

Dan Plesac from MLB Network joins Luke Stuckmeyer on the latest CubsTalk Podcast to discuss all that and more: