Cubs Diamondbacks series analysis

Cubs start another series with the Diamondbacks in Arizona today so let’s look at this matchup.  The Cubs played these Diamondbacks at home ten days ago and the Cubs were favored significantly.  Here is the current status line for Arizona.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
38.2 86.2 568 454 64 50 -12.2 -0.2 ARI

Good hitting, better pitching and they’re +14 on this season so far.  Their Achilles heel may be their fielding as they have a bottom tier UR=-12.2.   According to Pythagorean Expectation they should have around 3 more wins and 3 less losses.  We have observed a correlation between high negative unearned runs above average and a team under performing that estimation.  We’ll do a study on this later to prove, disprove, or can’t prove later in the season.

Let’s see what the Ouija Board thinks (noon snapshot).
``` DATE 08_11 9:40_PM CHN ARI LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.535 ] < 0.476 > STARTAWAY -1.34(0.449) John_Lackey_CHN LINEHOME ARI [ 0.512 ] < 0.545 > STARTHOME 1.83(0.578) Taijuan_Walker_ARI ```

Lackey isn’t having a very good season so far and Walker is.  Unlike the Cubs home stand against ARI, the Diamondbacks are now favored.  The line started favoring the Cubs and has been slowly moving towards ARI.   The real deltaWAA for wins and losses is….

deltaWAA = | WAA(ARI) – WAA(CHN) | = | 14 -5 | = 9

If we plug 9 into the table published here Arizona should be favored at 0.565 today.  The delta WAA for starting pitching is…

deltaWAA = | 1.83 – (-1.34) | =~ +2

Plugging that into the pitcher table published here yields ARI should be favored by 0.530.  The pitching table may have suppressed numbers due to teams with good pitchers on average will  have lessor hitting.  This will be covered more when we get into lineup/pitching combo results which we haven’t finished yet.

The 0.565 number for ARI is probably close and the lines look like they’ll finish there today.  We have noticed irrational exuberance over the Cubs is usually reserved for games at Wrigley — like the last time they played these Diamondbacks.

Let’s look at the starters and relievers on ARI’s roster.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+025+ 4.14 Zack_Greinke_ARI PITCH
+051+ 3.28 Zack_Godley_ARI PITCH
+142+ 1.78 Taijuan_Walker_ARI PITCH
XXXXX -0.08 Anthony_Banda_ARI PITCH
-176- -1.28 Patrick_Corbin_ARI PITCH
Total 7.84

Cubs will have to face two of those starters next two games. Here is their relief staff according to the current roster.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+111+ 1.72 David_Hernandez_ANA PITCH
+149+ 1.66 Andrew_Chafin_ARI PITCH
XXXXX 0.82 T.J._McFarland_ARI PITCH
XXXXX 0.78 Jake_Barrett_ARI PITCH
+111+ 0.38 David_Hernandez_ARI PITCH
XXXXX -0.17 Jorge_De_La_Rosa_ARI PITCH
XXXXX -0.19 Fernando_Rodney_ARI PITCH
Total 8.55

ARI has a top tier MLB relief staff.  The Cubs still do as well.  They are at +9.22 according to current roster.  It looks like ARI acquired David Hernandez from Anaheim who has two entries above.  Hernandez is ranked at #111 on the sum of those two entries.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 08092017
-1.07 Ben_Zobrist_CHN RF 326
-0.48 Albert_Almora_CHN CF 231
1.09 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B 463
2.88 Willson_Contreras_CHN 1B 374
0.84 Ian_Happ_CHN 2B 270
1.30 Javier_Baez_CHN SS 336
-0.17 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN LF 345
0.04 Alex_Avila_TOT C 271
-0.23 Kyle_Hendricks_CHN P 26
TOTAL WAA=4.20 PA=2642 WinPct=0.531

Because this is such a late game we’ll show their last lineup against SFN.  Contreras is hurt but Rizzo is missing above so they should still be around +4 or 0.530.  They have been hovering around that all season.  Contreras was the Cubs’ best player so him getting hurt is a huge setback.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 08102017
0.32 David_Peralta_ARI LF 399
0.13 A.J._Pollock_ARI CF 275
5.04 Jake_Lamb_ARI 3B 458
6.43 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B 483
3.17 J.D._Martinez_TOT RF 297
0.76 Daniel_Descalso_ARI 2B 271
0.42 Chris_Iannetta_ARI C 187
0.15 Ketel_Marte_ARI SS 83
-0.10 Anthony_Banda_ARI P 4
TOTAL WAA=16.30 PA=2457 WinPct=0.627

This is a rock ’em sock ’em lineup, the kind of lineup the Cubs fielded last season.  It’s going against a sub-average starting pitcher in John Lackey.  I suspect that ARI would have a huge advantage with this matchup alone.  The Cubs are fielding an average lineup going against a above average but not superstar starting pitcher who is backed by a top tier MLB relief staff.  We don’t have these numbers yet but I suspect this boosts the 0.565 number based solely on wins and losses significantly.  That the line started out favoring CHN is quite interesting.

We do not know enough to make a recommendation other than the Ouija Board seems to be in the right ballpark today.  Past results do not reflect future results and the Cubs could start this series with determination to finish this season by cruising into the playoffs.

Weekly state of the Cubs tomorrow.  Until then….