Cubs

Who Knew? The week in Cubs stats and factoids

Who Knew? The week in Cubs stats and factoids

Welcome back to "Who Knew?" - a roundup of fun facts, statistics & oddities. Today, we're looking at the last week of Cubs baseball. While they went a disappointing 3-3 on the road trip, there was plenty of interesting nuggets of information to be mined. Let's get started.

Time to go to school

On Tuesday, Kyle Hendricks had a brilliant outing at Cincinnati where he tossed 8 innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits. But he also collected three hits at the plate himself!

Cue the Carlos Zambrano trivia.

Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher with a 3-hit game since  Zambrano on May 26, 2011.

He was the first Cubs pitcher to get 3+ hits at the plate and allow 3 or fewer on the mound since Zambrano (8.2 IP, 3 Hits for, 3 against) 9/10/2010.

And Hendricks was the first Cubs starting pitcher to collect a hit in the 9th inning or later since Zambrano 9/25/2009... off Randy Johnson!

Back to the pitching for a minute - Hendricks started May with  three straight starts of 8+ innings, 1 or 0 runs & 1 or 0 walks. He's the first Cubs pitcher to do that in three straight starts since Mike Krukow in September 1981.

While Hendricks' start Sunday night didn't go quite as well, he still came away with a win, and he added on to an impressive run (before it finally came to an end).

From the beginning of May through the third inning Sunday, these are the pitch counts by completed inning (not counting the one batter in the 9th inning on Tuesday he faced before being pulled): 10, 6, 8, 15, 9, 7, 7, 9, 10, 15, 11, 12, 6, 12, 19, 15, 6, 11, 15, 7, 9, 16, 11, 13, 10, 11, 9, 8

That's a run of 28 consecutive completed innings under 20 pitches. And in 12 of the 28 innings, he kept it in single digits.

He finally tossed 21 pitches to get through the 4th inning Sunday night to snap the streak.

And by the way, Hendricks has put up an excellent 3.21 ERA and solid 1.179 WHIP this season despite not reaching 90 MPH on any of the 799 pitches he has thrown this season (though he did hit 89.2, 89.2 and 89.1 Sunday night). His max this season has been 89.3.

Going to 11

Anthony Rizzo homered Sunday night to bring his season total to 11. That tied him with THREE OTHER CUBS for the team lead, joining Javier Báez, Willson Contreras & Kris Bryant.

By the way, the most home runs in which four teammates in a season had the same amount (that's a mouthful) is 27. By the 2018 Yankees. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius & Miguel Andújar all had exactly 27 home runs. But they didn't tie for the team lead! Giancarlo Stanton had 38.

Anyway, four Cubs have double digit home runs through 44 team games. And do you remember the last time they did that?

You do not. Because it never happened!

In fact, through 44 team games, these are the players with 10+ home runs during the Joe Maddon era:
2019 - 4 (Javier Báez, Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant & Anthony Rizzo)
2018 - 1 (Javier Báez)
2017 - 1 (Kris Bryant)
2016 - 1 (Anthony Rizzo)
2015 - 0

They haven't had two double digit guys through 44 games since 2008 (Derrek Lee & Alfonso Soriano). They haven't had three since 2004 (Sammy Sosa, Aramis Ramírez & Moises Alou). And they have never had four. The Cubs National League lineage dates back to 1876.

And fun sidenote: through 44 games in 1998, the Cubs team leader in home runs was Henry Rodríguez with 9. Sammy Sosa had 8 before finishing the season with 66.

Schwarber's battle

On Friday night in the top of the 8th inning, Kyle Schwarber battled Kyle Barraclough until he finally homered on the 13th pitch of the at-bat. Pitch data is mostly complete to 1988. There are a few plate appearances for which we don't have pitch data. But of the at-bats that we do, it was the longest plate appearance to end with a Cubs home run since Gary Scott's April 20, 1992 grand slam off Kyle Abbott (also 13 pitches)

Bryant homers thrice

Kris Bryant homered three times on Friday. It was the second 3-homer game of Bryant's career.

According to STATS, Bryant was the 12th player in MLB history to homer in three consecutive innings (7th, 8th and 9th); the second (after J.D. Martinez) to homer in the 7th, 8th & 9th.

Bryant is the only Cub besides Sammy Sosa (3rd, 4th & 5th) on August 10, 2002 to homer in three consecutive innings.

He was the first Cub since Dave Kingman (May 17, 1979 - 40 years ago to the day) to homer off three different pitchers in the same game.

He is the second Cub ever to homer three times in a game with none coming off a starting pitcher, joining Adolfo Phillips on June 11, 1967 (Game 2 of doubleheader). In fact, in each of the last ten Cub three-HR games, the batter hit at least two home runs off the starter.

He was the first Cub ever to homer three times in a game in the 7th inning or later, though Dave Kingman on May 14, 1978 homered in the 6th, 9th and 15th inning of a game.

Cubs embrace Little League World Series experience by going hill-sledding

Cubs embrace Little League World Series experience by going hill-sledding

One of the most iconic aspects of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, is the hill behind center field at Lamade Stadium. Fans bring carboard boxes with them to the ballpark, using them to slide down the hill while Little League games commence on the ball field. 

Sunday, the Cubs and Pirates visited Lamade ahead of their Little League Classic matchup later in the day. Several Cubs took the opportunity to fully embrace the experience, taking turns sliding down the famous hill at the ballpark.

Anthony Rizzo and manager Joe Maddon demonstrated some A+ form, while former Cubs catcher and current ESPN broadcaster David Ross' care-free form is amazing.

Kris Bryant and Cole Hamels also took turns down the hill, and you've gotta love the pure joy on their faces.

The Little League World Series serves as a friendly reminder that baseball is a child's game. While the competitive aspect of MLB part of the game, it's nice to see the Cubs embracing the experience.

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Cubs bullpen gets another reinforcement with Craig Kimbrel activated

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USA TODAY

Cubs bullpen gets another reinforcement with Craig Kimbrel activated

The Cubs bullpen has had its share of struggles in recent days, but the team’s new closer is coming back from the injured list.

Craig Kimbrel was activated off the IL ahead of Sunday’s game against the Pirates. The game will be played in Williamsport, Pa., as the Little League Classic.

Kimbrel took the spot of Duane Underwood Jr., who heads back to Triple-A Iowa. Outfielder Mark Zagunis also joined the Cubs roster as the 26th man for Sunday’s game.

Kimbrel joined the Cubs as a free agent in the middle of the season and debuted on June 27. He made 14 appearances before going to the IL with right knee inflammation. He last pitched on Aug. 3.

In 12 2/3 innings, Kimbrel has 17 strikeouts, eight walks and 13 hits for a 5.68 ERA. He has nine saves.

The Cubs suffered back-to-back walk-off losses on Thursday and Friday with the bullpen blowing late leads. Three of the team’s most experienced relievers, Kimbrel, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek were all on the IL at the same time. Kintzler was activated Friday, but promptly blew a lead in Pittsburgh on Friday in his first game back.

Kimbrel’s return gives Joe Maddon another option in the bullpen after going through a rough stretch with relievers.