5th worst start for the Cubs ever

Chris Jaffe looked at the Cubs worst starts and found that this 15-31 bunch ties for 5th worst with the 1962 team. Jaffe's article is worth a read. It's a brief article so it won't take you very long.

Last night I became curious how well the Cubs would have to play the rest of the season to reach certain win totals at the end of the year. Let's start with the most obvious one: how well do they have to play to win the division? Baseball Prospectus projects the Cardinals will win 90.5 games by the end of the season. So I decided to go ahead and calculate how well they'd have to play to win anywhere between 60 and 91 games.

EoS Wins RoS Wins RoS Losses RoS Win %
91 76 40 .655
90 75 41 .647
89 74 42 .638
88 73 43 .629
87 72 44 .621
86 71 45 .612
85 70 46 .603
84 69 47 .595
83 68 48 .586
82 67 49 .578
81 66 50 .569
80 65 51 .560
79 64 52 .552
78 63 53 .543
77 62 54 .534
76 61 55 .526
75 60 56 .517
74 59 57 .509
73 58 58 .500
72 57 59 .491
71 56 60 .483
70 55 61 .474
69 54 62 .466
68 53 63 .457
67 52 64 .448
66 51 65 .440
65 50 66 .431
64 49 67 .422
63 48 68 .414
62 47 69 .405
61 46 70 .397
60 45 71 .388

EoS – End of Season
RoS – Rest of Season

PECOTA is projecting them to win 69 games (68.6 to be precise). They're expecting the Cubs to play 8 to 10 games under .500 the rest of the way. If the Cubs were to play .500 ball, they'd only accomplish 73 wins and the right to brag that they didn't lose 90. Playing .500 ball the rest of the way seems unlikely. If that's unlikely, what about the division? .655!

Maybe you're thinking the Cardinals could stumble and fail to win 85. That's true, but the Reds EoS wins projection is 88.1. For the Cubs to beat the Reds they'd have to play better than .635 ball the rest of the way. For what it's worth, PECOTA projects the Cubs have a 0% chance of reaching the post-season. It's not actually 0%, but rounding it gives you 0. PECOTA also projects the Cubs to finish in 6th place and have the third pick in the 2013 draft.

If the Cubs are to lose 100 they have to play no better than .405 baseball the rest of the way. I wouldn't rule that out though I don't think it's likely. I think PECOTA is too optimisic. I don't see this team finishing the season with 70 or more wins. If I had to guess I'd go with 67 or 68. The average of the 6 worst Cubs teams who started as poorly as this team is 66 wins.

I thought I'd also add that I'm beginning to wonder about whether or not it's even worth extending Matt Garza. Sure, it would be nice to have him around, but he's going to cost a lot of money and he's going to be playing on a lot of bad Cubs teams. I also wonder why Garza would even consider re-signing with the Cubs when he could join a contender when the season is done. If I was the Cubs, I'd be shopping Garza at the trade deadline.

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