I spent most of Wednesday night at a band concert, did I miss anything? I followed the game on my phone between songs and my daughter winning an award during the concert and watched one of the last performances of her marching season of her senior year. And so it was that my phone told me that Willson Contreras had hit a home run. Of course, I’ve been following along and so I’m aware of the (stupid, and yet funny in an awful way) statistic that when the Cubs hit a home run this post season they lose. Another song and holy cow, Javier Baez hit a home run too! How fun is that. We had just walked in and hadn’t made it to the TV yet when Javy hit his second home run. Neat!
So I saw a few innings of the game. I saw no Cubs hits. I did see Justin Turner almost literally try to land one on the moon. I did see the foul ball that wasn’t. I saw Jake Arrieta’s strike that wasn’t called when his stuff was so filthy that he missed his spot badly but entirely in the strike zone and it wasn’t called because Willson had to move clear across the plate from where he set up and I also saw Jake fittingly get a standing ovation in what we can all only hope isn’t his last-ever start in a Cubs uniform. It sure would be nice to see him get one or two more...
I’m just superstitious enough that I went to bed before the ninth inning. The Cubs lost 1-0 during the time I was watching the game and happily they won 3-1 during the time I was not watching. Next up, beating Clayton Kershaw in Wrigley Field. We’ve seen that show before. Well... actually, I didn’t see that one either last year as I was at a wedding. Stupid Cubs won that game so quickly that we didn’t even make it home in time to see the last out. Grrr. Of course, now I’m in the land of dilemma, do I owe it to the Cubs to not watch?
Incidentally, the Cubs figured out the post season last night. Hitting a home run is the recipe for failure. Hitting multiple home runs works. So any time Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo want to go back to looking like MVP-caliber players, it won’t be a minute too soon.
Let’s take a look at what WPA has to say about Heroes and Goats. As usual, I’ve not peeked, but I have a pretty good guess as to who the three guys will be and a fairly good guess as to what order they will appear in. At any rate, 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 Wednesday, October 18 (Cubs win 3-2!):
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jake Arrieta (.256). If that was the last time we see him on the mound in a Cubs uniform, he gave us more great memories. Six and two thirds innings, nine strike outs, one run allowed. He allowed three hits and five walks. From what I saw, his stuff was nasty. Jake Arrieta has started three times in games where if the Cubs lost their postseason would end. He’s won them all. I wish I was his agent...
- Hero - Javier Baez (.207). One Cubs bat woke up yesterday and did it in a huge way. Javier Baez hit two home runs and it turned out the Cubs would need both of them. Let’s hope a few more Cubs bats get going tonight and that Javy keeps his going.
- Sidekick - Wade Davis (.164). 3-1 must have felt just too comfortable for Wade. So he allowed a titanic home run to cut it to 3-2. He wasn’t pretty after that, but did not allow another hit while recording the final six outs of the game. He did strike out three and walk three. He won’t be available tonight, so Joe will hopefully be deciding between Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon should a closer be needed. I won’t be surprised if Edwards is the one he chooses.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Kris Bryant (-.071). Kris was hitless in four tries. I know he had a couple of hits in Game 3, but seriously I can’t say this any louder or clearer. It’s time to warm it up Kris! You keep telling us you are about to, but we can’t wait anymore. I hear you said you are tired. Find an energy drink or whatever. I’m going way out on a limb and suggesting that if there is to be a miracle, the offense is going to have to wake up.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.045). If the Cubs had lost last night, I’d have been seriously angry that they missed that Rizzo really did foul off strike three and that Granderson really didn’t. Anthony struck out three times in three at bats. The Cubs actually won a game in which their fourth hitter only batted three times. That doesn’t happen often. I don’t know if he’s gone to a lighter bat yet or what, but whatever he’s doing isn’t working.
- Kid - Addison Russell (-.043). Addison also only batted three times from the sixth spot (obviously) and struck out two of the three. There will be lefty starters the next two games, the Cubs are going to need contributions from the three gentlemen on last night’s goat podiums.
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.
- Jon Lester 6
- Albert Almora Jr. 5
- Jake Arrieta 4
- Jose Quintana 3
- Willson Contreras 2
- Ian Happ 2
- Brian Duensing 2
- Anthony Rizzo 1
- Kyle Schwarber 1
- Wade Davis 1
- Carl Edwards Jr. 0
- Pedro Strop 0
- Javier Baez 0
- Jon Jay -1
- Addison Russell -2
- Jason Heyward -2
- Kyle Hendricks -3
- Ben Zobrist -3
- Hector Rondon -3
- John Lackey -3
- Mike Montgomery -5
- Kris Bryant -6
The numbers don’t lie. At the top of this list, we largely see the Cubs starting pitchers. They’ve been very good this post season. And on the negative side, five of the Cubs hitters who Joe most likes to pencil into the lineup appear. If we go as high as +1 for Anthony Rizzo, seven of the eight most likely players for Joe to write down for a playoff game appear. The lone exception is Willson Contreras who has appeared on exactly one podium and it was the Hero one. Albert Almora has contributed plenty, which is great given that the Dodgers seemingly have an all left handed starting rotation. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player get as many plate appearances as Ian Happ did in the regular season, be healthy and still not start any of the team’s first nine playoff games.
Tonight, Jose Quintana and Clayton Kershaw will rematch from game one. That night, the results were similar for both. Quintana was on unusual rest after having thrown in relief in game 5 of the NLDS. Hopefully tonight he can be economical and get at least six and maybe seven innings of quality pitching. The Dodgers have been looking to get just five or six innings out of Kershaw. If the Cubs could somehow get one more inning out of Quintana and be up by a run or two, maybe they can get their return trip to LA that they (and all of us) are hoping for.
With that, we’ll finish up with our usual poll. Yesterday, 36% of you selected Carl Edwards Jr. as the Goat of Tuesday’s game. Brace yourselves folks, Joe is going to throw Carl right back out there tonight. And the Cubs season is going to be riding on that appearance. Today we’ll vote on the Hero from last nights game.
Who was the Cubs Hero of last night’s game?
This poll is closed
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)