If you want to know why the 1990 Cubs won only 77 games despite have the National League's second highest team batting average, the answer is they had the league's second highest ERA, too. The staff posted a combined 4.34 ERA, almost a full run worst than league leader Montreal's 3.37.
Greg Maddux was now the ace of the staff, winning 15 games, but he also lost 15. That was the most losses in a season in his career, a mark he tied with the Cubs in 2005.
Mike Bielecki had a great 1989, coming out of nowhere to go 18-7. He returned to earth in 1990 with an 8-11 record and a 4.83 ERA.
Mike Harkey was the Sporting News' Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1990, going 12-6 with a 3.26 ERA. He was the lone bright spot on the staff. A shoulder injury cost him the month of September and perhaps his career. He missed most of 1991 and 1992.
Shawn Boskie made his major league debut on May 20 and picked up a complete game win against the Astros. He ended up making 15 starts and was 5-6. Like Harkey, he failed to finish the season. A bone chip in his elbow did him in.
Rick Sutcliffe spent most of the season on the DL with shoulder problems. He started five games near the end of the season and was 0-2 with a 5.91 ERA. Noticing a theme among the starters yet? Injuries and high ERAs do not lead to victories!
Mitch Williams was the closer, but fans were getting tired of the whole "Wild Thing" routine. It was OK in '89 as long as he got the save, but that wasn't happening any more in 1990. He had a 1-8 record and only 16 saves. A knee injury kept him from blowing more saves as he missed time in June and July. Wild Thing, you make the other team's bats sing.
Paul Assenmacher led the team in appearances with 74. He did a nice job as closer when Williams was hurt, ending up with 10 saves. His record was 7-2 with a nice 2.80 ERA.
Paul Kilgus was traded to the Blue Jays for Jose Nunez
Les Lancaster made 55 appearances including five starts. He was 9-5 but had a very high 4.62 ERA.
Pat Perry was released in December, 1989.
Jeff Pico pitched in 31 games, and his ERA, like almost everyone else on the staff, was over 4, at 4.79.
Scott Sanderson was 11-9 in 1989, but the Cubs choose to let him go in free agency. With the lousy starting pitching, in hindsight that looked like a big mistake. Sanderson hooked up with the A's and was 17-11.
Steve Wilson was 4-9 with an ERA of 4.79.
Bill Long was picked up from the White Sox on April 30 and was 6-1. But his ERA, want to guess how high it was? If you said over four, you were right! It was 4.37
Dean Wilkins pitched in 7 games in two early season stints and was really bad, like 9.82 ERA bad.
A boatload of players pitched but had no Topps card, many making their MLB debuts in 1990 and impressing no one. Are any of these names you recognize?
Jose Nunez, 4-7, 6.53
Dave Pavlas, 2-0, 2.11 (which seems good, how did he get mixed up in here??)
Randy Kramer, 0-2, 3.98
Kevin Coffman, 0-2. 11.29 - and that ERA is not a typo
Lance Dickson, 0-3, 7.24
Kevin Blankenship, 0-2, 5.84
And finally, the team ERA leader, with a perfect 0.00 in his one inning...
Maybe they should have thought about using him on the mound more often!