After a strong August, September and early October was more of the same for one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. The young squad got stronger as the season wound down and won their last eight games. With the wild card playoff game on Wednesday on every Cubs fans mind, let’s take a look back at the final month of the season.
- Team Record: 23-9
- Team Average: .257
- Team ERA: 2.45
- Top Hitter: Starlin Castro
- Top Pitcher: Jake Arrieta
- Team Record: 12-13
- Team Average: .236
- Team ERA: 4.62
- Top Hitter: Chris Coghlan
- Top Pitcher: Jake Arrieta
It’s amazing to see how far this team has come in over a year. Last year at this time, the Cubs struggled for most of the season and limped to the finish line. Fast forward to now and the team played their best baseball, posting their best overall month in batting average, ERA and overall record. Despite being a young team, the Cubs showed this month that they have a lot of depth and received solid contributions from all over the roster.
Starlin Castro was arguably the team’s best hitter in September after many had given up on him. Despite not playing every day, he smashed a line of .369/.400/.655 with seven doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI. Kris Bryant was not far behind him batting .316 with nine doubles, five home runs and 19 RBI despite playing all over the diamond. Javier Baez improved greatly in his second go round and batted .289 with six doubles and a home run and showed versatility by playing good defense at second and third base and shortstop. Miguel Montero also excelled with a .301 average as did Tommy La Stella whose left-handed bat proved valuable as a pinch hitter.
It wasn’t all roses for the Cubs offense however. Kyle Schwarber scored 14 runs for the month and got on base at a .352 clip, but scuffled to an abysmal .208 average. David Ross provided great leadership in the clubhouse, but his .132 average was bested by pitchers Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta and may suggest he’s about done. Dexter Fowler ended his year batting just .219, but still managed to score 17 runs, second on the team.
Better than the improved offense was a rejuvenated pitching staff led by staff ace Arrieta, who continued to be the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball. In 46 innings, Arrieta gave up just two earned runs and four walks to earn him a miniscule 0.39 ERA and 0.56 WHIP. His dominance was contagious to his fellow rotation mates who combined for a 3.11 ERA. Lester proved to be a quality No. 2 behind Arrieta winning three games and posting a 2.36 ERA. Kyle Hendricks made a serious case as a potential No. 3 starter in the playoffs by striking out 39 batters in 32.2 innings as did Dan Haren who finally pitched up to his capabilities with a 2.20 ERA. Jason Hammel did not get in on the act and continued to struggle giving up 17 earned in 28.2 innings.
The bullpen also got into the act and posted a 2.51 ERA, easily their best total for the year. Travis Wood earned top honors with a 0.56 ERA, three saves and 23 strikeouts in 16 innings. Fernando Rodney wasn’t far behind winning two games and posting a 0.90 ERA. The quartet of Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez seemed tuned up and ready for playoff baseball combining for a 2.45 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 40.1 innings.
Trade acquisition Tommy Hunter continued to struggle, with an 8.31 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. Zac Rosscup failed to get many outs and in six games, pitched just three innings, giving up two earned runs and walking two batters. Carl Edwards Jr. also showed he needs a little more seasoning as he was rarely trusted in high leverage situations.
There’s no doubt that the Cubs are right in line with the front office’s plan and displayed in September and early October a killer instinct that has been lacking for many seasons. The squad showed why they will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of October if they are able to advance. With the best pitcher in all of baseball starting for them and rejuvenated offensive players like Bryant, Castro and Anthony Rizzo, it’s looking like a good chance that they will.
2015 Cubs Month in Review
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