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Cubs Heroes and Goats Playoff Edition: Game 5

The one in which the Cubs beat the Nationals to advance to their third consecutive NLCS!

Addison Russell was the offensive hero of game 5.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Dear lord, what did we witness? What a mess that was. For the second consecutive Cubs postseason series, I feel genuinely sorry for the team the Cubs beat. So many times we as fans lived through excruciating postseason series. Situations in which guys who had been seemingly automatic failed to do things they’ve always done. I can’t imagine the pain while that crazy Max Scherzer inning was unfolding. To strike out the Cubs’ two best hitters and then just slowly watch the wheels fall off the bus, the engine fall out, etc. and then to rally in the eighth only to have the catcher picked off, and then to have the top of the order against a pitcher who seemed to be on the ropes...

Brutal. But here we are. We’ve just witnessed the Cubs move on to the championship series for the third straight seasons. There will be decisions to be made about rosters and how best to deploy the starting pitchers. Incidentally, I think I’d send Lackey out there and let Q rest and take game two and then Lester/Arrieta in some order and then Hendricks. Which roughly uses them in the order of the number of games they’ve pitched. But I certainly have no issue if they think Q will be good to go and have no ill effects of his usage this week. #notadoctor #notapitchingcoach.

Josh and Al have written lengthy recaps of the game and said the things that needed to be said and you’ve all had plenty of opportunity to comment, so I’ll press ahead. Let’s talk about WPA and what it had to say about Heroes and Goats. I totally didn’t cheat at all last night watching the game. I’ve certainly thought about it, but I never opened up Fangraphs to peek ahead, so I’ll be discovering these results along with you guys.

As always the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added — here’s a good explanation of how WPA works) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. Also note, for the purposes of Heroes and Goats, we ignore the results of pitchers while they are batting and hitters while they are pitching. With that, we get to the results.

Game Chart Thursday, October 12 (Cubs win 9-8):

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Addison Russell (.469). That’s a huge number. I did guess that one correctly last night doing mental math. Four RBI is huge, especially given the number of odd ways the Cubs scored last night. Amusingly, Addison’s first RBI resulted in negative WPA as he grounded out with the bases loaded and one out in the third (-.007). His two run double in the fifth to give the Cubs the lead was worth (.271). His RBI double in the sixth that scored the eighth run was worth (.063). Amusingly, Fangraphs is incorrect. So the .469 will come down. They’ve credited Addison with .128 for Javier Baez reaching on a dropped third strike. Javy’s reaching on the play is labelled at (.000) and then all of the runners advancing was worth (.128), but that was all one contiguous play so it isn’t right. But even with the subtraction, Addison ends up here.
  • Hero - Wade Davis (.278). He recorded seven outs. I didn’t think he’d make it after struggling a bit. In all, he allowed two hits, two walks, a run, struck out three and recorded the longest save of his career by a wide margin. Just wow is all I can say about that performance.
  • Sidekick - Jon Jay (.191). Doubled and scored the first run in the first (.059), was hit by pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth (.080), one out single with a runner on first in the seventh (.046). Jon Jay was in the middle of a lot of the action last night.


  • Billy Goat - Kyle Hendricks (-.212). Another really weird stat line. Kyle Hendricks threw four innings and struck out seven hitters with one walk. Other than the innings, that line normally belongs to the winning pitcher. But there were nine hits including two home runs and four runs. And yet, the last six outs he recorded turned out to be huge as the Cubs struggled to find 27 outs.
  • Goat - Jason Heyward (-.125). This is that kind of game. WPA doesn’t do anything for the long running catch that Heyward made that was enormous. Offensively, Heyward’s contributions were long, hard foul balls. He grounded out in the first with the bases loaded and two outs (-.064), struck out with a runner on third and two outs in the third (-.042), flied out with two outs and a runner on second in the sixth (-.011), and struck out starting the ninth (-.017). He did get intentionally walked in the crucial fifth inning (.009).
  • Kid - Mike Montgomery (-.108). Mike threw to five batters and only retired the last one. Double, walk, wild pitch, double, intentional walk, fly out. Ouch. Staying in long enough to get that one out was the difference between Billy Goat and Kid as the out was worth (.118).

That was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen. Fortunately, the Cubs won it and now they move on to Los Angeles, just four wins away from a second consecutive World Series appearance and eight wins away from a second consecutive championship. It will be a brutal march to the end, but they are still alive and that’s all that matters.

Next, we take a look at the cumulative standings for the playoffs. As a reminder, we award three points for Superhero, two for Hero, and one for Sidekick. And we deduct three points for Billy Goat, two for Goat and one for Kid.

Cumulative Standings:

  • Jon Lester 6
  • Anthony Rizzo 3
  • Jose Quintana 3
  • Willson Contreras 2
  • Jake Arrieta 2
  • Albert Almora Jr. 1
  • Jon Jay 1
  • Kyle Hendricks 0
  • Wade Davis 0
  • Kris Bryant -1
  • Pedro Strop -1
  • Addison Russell -1
  • Jason Heyward -2
  • Kyle Schwarber -2
  • Javier Baez -2
  • Mike Montgomery -3
  • Ben Zobrist -3
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -3

Addison Russell had been dead last in the standings and then put on the Superhero cape last night. Kyle Hendricks slides back to even while Wade Davis moves back up to even with his epic performance.

Next up the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers will certainly use Clayton Kershaw in game one. Against the Diamondbacks, Rich Hill started Game 2, but threw 78 pitches in four innings and then gave way to the bullpen. Expect to see a lot of Albert Almora Jr. in the first two games. It’ll be interesting to see if Joe goes to the same lineup he used last night in both games. This Dodgers team looks even better than the Nationals and it isn’t going to get any easier at this point. Buckle up.

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday, four players received more than 10 votes (plus other received 26 of them) but Carl Edwards Jr. received almost 240 votes and was the Billy Goat of yesterday’s game. Today, it’ll be a happier discussion as we discuss the Superhero of Game 5.


Who was the Cubs Superhero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Addison Russell
    (261 votes)
  • 44%
    Wade Davis
    (263 votes)
  • 0%
    Jon Jay
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Willson Contreras
    (52 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)
    (7 votes)
588 votes total Vote Now

Bonus, I’ll double down with a second poll for your series MVP. (Please note, if you are reading this article on Google AMP or Apple News, you will need to go to a desktop browser to see the polls.)


Who was your NLDS MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Jon Jay (.883 OPS)
    (31 votes)
  • 21%
    Anthony Rizzo (6 RBI)
    (118 votes)
  • 21%
    Willson Contreras (.879 OPS and his job managing the pitching staff)
    (121 votes)
  • 2%
    Addison Russell (4 RBI in game 5)
    (16 votes)
  • 8%
    Jon Lester (1.86 ERA, .621 WHIP)
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    Jose Quintana (0.00 ERA, .789 WHIP)
    (14 votes)
  • 25%
    Wade Davis (3 saves)
    (140 votes)
  • 12%
    Michael A. Taylor (who? Kid had a great series)
    (69 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
554 votes total Vote Now