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Cubs' pitching staff better this year than last

MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- As the number of games left on the schedule dwindles, Cubs manager Dale Sveum has been able to evaluate how different players and positions have performed throughout the season. Before Wednesday's series finale against the Reds, Sveum rated his pitchers, and the review was generally favorable.

"There's a lot of things that are involved, but on the whole, the pitching has been basically average to above average," Sveum said. "Our starters have been pretty good for most of the year."

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CINCINNATI -- As the number of games left on the schedule dwindles, Cubs manager Dale Sveum has been able to evaluate how different players and positions have performed throughout the season. Before Wednesday's series finale against the Reds, Sveum rated his pitchers, and the review was generally favorable.

"There's a lot of things that are involved, but on the whole, the pitching has been basically average to above average," Sveum said. "Our starters have been pretty good for most of the year."

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Prior to right-hander Jeff Samardzija taking the hill on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park, the Cubs had delivered 81 quality starts this season. That mark placed fifth in the National League, easily surpassing the team's total of 73 during the 2012 campaign, which ranked second-to-last in the NL.

The first two games of this week's series in Cincinnati were an example of Chicago's starting pitching at its best, as Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson combined to allow one run on 15 hits over 14 innings. They also didn't surrender a walk against the team that led the NL in free passes entering Wednesday (517).

As for the bullpen, Sveum has been pleased to see improvement. After Chicago relievers gave up 245 earned runs in 491 innings last season (4.49 ERA), the Cubs' bullpen entered Wednesday having allowed just 190 earned runs in 414 innings (4.13 ERA), with 18 games left to play.

"Still have some ups and downs here and there," Sveum said of his bullpen. "But it's a heck of a lot more consistent than it was last year or the beginning of the year."

Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs