Cubs Pirates Matchup

We do this once per series.  The Ouija Board, which is the betting market, is described here and here.  Basically it is the best predictor of a baseball game probability there is.  Here is what it has to say today about the Cubs and Pirates.

DATE 06_16 7:05_PM Jun_16_10:17:02 CHN PIT
LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.565 ] < 0.535 >
STARTAWAY 0.17(0.526) Eddie_Butler_CHN
LINEHOME PIT [ 0.455 ] < 0.488 >
STARTHOME -1.03(0.402) Trevor_Williams_PIT

Cubs as an away team should be 0.460 all things being equal but the Ouija Board doesn’t see this game as equal so the Cubs are favored today.  Eddie Butler hasn’t had a good career so far but he pitched 29 innings for the Cubs this season and is almost exactly average.  Williams is below average.   With these two pitchers I would declare starting pitchers may be a wash today.  Neither of them are very good.  Let’s look at PIT team status.

-23.7 -9.4 278 307 30 35 -1.5 4.5 PIT

At 30-35 PIT is 5 real games under water.  Their BAT is terrible and their pitching is also under water.  Let’s look at lineups from each team’s last game since I don’t want to wait until they’re released today.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 06142017
1.16 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B 287
0.48 Ian_Happ_CHN 2B 100
0.65 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B 278
-0.13 Miguel_Montero_CHN C 91
-0.04 Jon_Jay_CHN RF 126
-0.32 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF 240
0.90 Javier_Baez_CHN SS 186
-0.15 Mike_Montgomery_CHN P 6
0.17 Albert_Almora_CHN CF 130
TOTAL WAA=2.73 PA=1444 WinPct=0.536

The Cubs have an above average lineup again.  Maddon put Rizzo leadoff because Rizzo is the Cubs’ best hitter right now and the leadoff hitter is guaranteed the most plate appearances per game.  Here are the Pirates’ lineup their last game.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 06142017
0.38 Adam_Frazier_PIT 2B 179
-1.43 Josh_Harrison_PIT 3B 271
-1.16 Gregory_Polanco_PIT RF 195
-0.34 John_Jaso_PIT LF 144
0.19 Josh_Bell_PIT 1B 243
1.03 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF 265
-0.23 Francisco_Cervelli_PIT C 178
0.15 Max_Moroff_PIT SS 24
-0.32 Chad_Kuhl_PIT P 13
TOTAL WAA=-1.72 PA=1512 WinPct=0.478

Considering their terrible BAT in team status, PIT fielded a lineup only slightly below average.  Their stand out players are highlighted above and I checked WAR.  For some reason Andrew McCutchen is in WAR’s dog house at 0.1 and Josh Harrison has a WAR=+2.1 ranking him #58 amongst both PITCHers and BATters in MLB according to WAR.  Interesting.  We’ll do a more thorough WAR vs. WAA smackdown sometime later but our rating is correct here.  No way McCutchen should be rated 0.1.  He was WAR’s darling in 2013.

Let’s look at relief because that could be important with two so so pitchers pitching today.

TeamID WAA IP WinPct
CHN 4.66 240.6 0.587
PIT 1.97 204.9 0.543

Both teams have above average relief staff.  Cubs are a little better but they probably won’t have Montgomery since he started recently.

CHN seems to have an edge in starting pitching, lineup, and relief.  Although their hitting is in a funk right now, if they start playing to their potential as measured by the last two seasons this could be a series that sets this ship in motion.  We’ll see.  Perhaps tomorrow or the next day we’ll do minor league analysis of the AAA International and Pacific Coast League leaders.  Until then….

Update:  This McCuthen WAR rating fascinated me so I did a season scan on him.  Here is our rating of him the last two weeks.

Date WAA Name_TeamID Pos
05272017 -0.36 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
05312017 -0.21 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
06022017 -0.13 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
06052017 -0.06 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
06092017 0.48 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
06122017 0.63 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF
06162017 1.03 Andrew_McCutchen_PIT CF-RF

Yikes!  He has been on fire lately so perhaps WAR is lagging and will catch up soon.  The Cubs might want to intentionally, or unintentionally intentionally, walk this guy today each time he’s up.  Also note that  -0.36 was almost exactly where Kyle Schwarber has been hovering around this season.