If you happened to catch the Cubs-Brewers game on Sunday, you saw Cubs starter Javier Assad pitch 6 scoreless innings, lowering his season ERA to 1.66.

But a glimpse of the box score tells only part of the story.

The Cubs infield made 4 very good defensive plays behind Assad.

In the top of the first, Dansby Swanson kept the game scoreless with a sliding play in the 5/6 hole and subsequent throw-out of Willy Adames with a man on 3rd and 2 outs.

In the second inning, first baseman Michael Busch dove to tag out Oliver Dunn on a drag bunt attempt, ending the inning.

Then Swanson took a hit away from Brice Turang with a 4th-inning sliding stop in the other direction, behind second base. Though a runner on first advanced to second, Swanson helped kill a rally.

In the fifth inning, Busch made a sprawling stop on a Sal Frelick grounder then dove to tag first base. Again, a runner advanced to second base but the out prevented further potential damage.

There was one other play that probably went unnoticed by many but not by us – Mike Tauchman hustled to the right field line to field a ball off the side wall and hold Tyler Black to a single.

At SIS, we keep track of Good Fielding Plays and Defensive Misplays. These are given by our game-watching Video Scouts for about 30 types of good plays and 60 types of mistakes.

The 4 plays on ground balls all count as Good Fielding Plays under the categorization of ‘ground ball out.’ Tauchman’s play counts as a ‘holds to single,’ and for that play Tauchman gets a fractional credit applied to his Defensive Runs Saved.

The Cubs made 5 Good Fielding Plays behind Assad in 6 innings. He’s now been the beneficiary of 11 Good Fielding Plays this season against 2 Defensive Misplays & Errors.

The Cubs have 3 unbeaten starting pitchers with sub-2 ERAs: Assad, Shota Imanaga, and Jameson Taillon. But there’s a difference in what’s happened behind them.

Assad was the beneficiary of 5 Good Fielding Plays in those 6 innings. Imanaga and Taillon have received 4 Good Fielding Plays (against 8 Misplays & Errors) in 65 2/3 innings pitched all season.

Assad has been on the mound for the second-most Good Fielding Plays by a team for a pitcher this season. Seth Lugo of the Royals has benefited from the most, 13 (including this this home run robbery).

But Lugo’s experience has been a little different from Assad’s. He’s been on the mound for 12 Royals misplays and errors, the most by any team for any pitcher. Lugo has thus far benefited more from the good plays than he has from the mistakes and is pitching to a 1.92 ERA.

Phillies starter Ranger Suárez is another who has benefited from Good Fielding Plays. The Phillies have made 10 behind him (including this one by first baseman Bryce Harper). They’ve turned 85% of grounders and bunts against Suarez into outs, the 4th-highest rate in the majors (minimum 40 grounders and bunts against them). Suárez has a 1.72 ERA.

But a high total of Good Fielding Plays does not guarantee success. Chris Bassitt of the Blue Jays and Logan Allen of the Guardians each have had 10 Good Fielding Plays behind them, just like Suárez. Each has an ERA of 5.00 or higher.

Most Good Fielding Plays – By Team For Pitcher

Pitcher Team Good Fielding Plays
Seth Lugo Royals 13
Javier Assad Cubs 11
Ranger Suárez Phillies 10
Chris Bassitt Blue Jays 10
Logan Allen Guardians 10