This week marked the toughest of the 2016 calendar so far for the Chicago Cubs, as the team went just 2-4 to mark their first losing week of the season.But while the Cubs' lineup has struggled lately to produce, the team's relievers have kept them in ballgames. Beginning Tuesday, five
This week marked the toughest of the 2016 calendar so far for the Chicago Cubs, as the team went just 2-4 to mark their first losing week of the season.
But while the Cubs' lineup has struggled lately to produce, the team's relievers have kept them in ballgames. Beginning Tuesday, five of Chicago's past six games have been decided by two runs or less. Those efforts by the Cubs' bullpen solidified their status as Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford.
:: Bullpen of the Week winners ::
As part of the MLB Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2016 season, MLB.com is honoring the "Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford." An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Cubs' bullpen scored 101.5 points this week by allowing just one earned run on 11 hits over 21 2/3 innings. Chicago's relievers struck out 24 batters and walked just 11, and Clayton Richard earned the club's lone save.
The Cubs' bullpen displayed an ability to withstand adversity and succeed despite unexpected circumstances. Here's a look at their biggest obstacle:
The unexpected: With the visiting Cubs tied at one with the Brewers in the bottom of the 12th, closer Hector Rondon, trying to complete two innings for the first time in over two years, put two men on before exiting the game. His replacement, Travis Wood, walked Domingo Santana to load the bases with no one out.
How they prevailed: Wood retired three straight batters on popups to retire Milwaukee's bases-loaded threat. Then, with the Cubs' everyday hitters struggling to score runs, Wood decided to pitch in on offense, too. Stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the 13th, he drew a two-out walk to bring the go-ahead run home for Chicago.
"He's always said that he wants to hit a walk-off homer," teammate Kris Bryant said of Wood. "I guess that was close to it."
With the Cubs now ahead 2-1 and Rondon already used, Richard came in to record his first career save and seal a wild win for Chicago.
The Cubs finished five-and-a-half points ahead of the second-place Kansas City Royals' bullpen and six-and-a-half points ahead of the New York Mets. Kansas City is a perfect 18-0 when leading after seven innings this season, and closer Wade Davis' has posted a 0.99 ERA with 201 strikeouts with just 3 home runs allowed since moving to the Royals' bullpen full-time in 2013. Meanwhile, Mets relievers have not allowed a run in 14 1/3 innings over their last four games.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattkellyMLB.