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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 39

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Two in a row! Cubs win 7-5.

MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This homestand seemed like a golden opportunity to shake off some early season struggles and to hopefully get back to playing baseball like we saw the last two years. And so far, the results have been good. The Cubs were able to jump out to an early lead last night and hold on for the win.

Kyle Hendricks allowed a run in the first, marking the 19th game this year out of 39 that the Cubs have allowed at least one run in the first. But for those of you panicked about that, the Cubs now have a 10-9 record when they allow a first inning run compared to 10-10 when they don’t. So the team has been largely as effective with or without the early runs allowed.

On this night, it was a little more distressing with the wind howling out. Fortunately, the Cubs were able to put five runs of their own on the board in the bottom of the second and this looked like one where they might breeze to the victory. Alas, the Reds were having none of that script and battled back before eventually losing 7-5. It does seem possible at least that the Reds have found a bullpen arm or two this year.

A big early lead usually leads to a bit of an unusual WPA graph, let’s take a look at last night’s and see what we have. As for the Heroes and Goats themselves, as a reminder, 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.

Game Chart:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Ben Zobrist (.138). Ben made his return to the lineup after being limited to pinch hitting duties since May 12th and had two hits. His second inning single with one on and no outs was good for a .101 towards his WPA, accounting for much of this position. A double leading off the third was enough to give him the top spot for his role as a table setter in this game.
  • Hero - Kyle Schwarber (.128). This one looks a little odd given that Kyle was just 1 for 5 on the night with two strike outs, but a two-out two-run single was worth .176. So of course it’s a little bit of an odd day when your fifth hitter reaches the podium as a table setter and your leadoff man is here for driving in runs.
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.095). Also a relatively quiet day with a couple of grounders to the right side in a 1 for 4 day. Rizzo is here because of his two-out two-run single in the second. His was worth .116 since the Cubs were already up 3-1 and looking good at the time. So refreshing to see some two out hitting, particularly from two guys who have had a rough month at the plate.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Addison Russell (-.060). Addison is here on the back of two outs he made the first two times up with men on base. The first one actually scored a run, but lowered his WPA because two men were on with no outs at the time. Fortunately, the big inning came anyway.
  • Goat - Pedro Strop (-.057). Strop came in with runners on first and second and two outs after Montgomery had allowed three straight hitters to reach base. He allowed a two run double before getting a ground out to end the inning and the scoring for the night.
  • Kid - Mike Montgomery (-.023). Mike had gone quite some time since he last allowed a run and it looked like it might be another clean inning this time as he induced two groundballs to start the inning. But then the meat of the Reds order singled, walked and singled, closing the gap to 7-3. At that point, Strop came in, but allowed two of them to score, resulting in three earned runs total allowed for Montgomery.

Year to Date Standings (italics means player no longer in the organization):

  • Anthony Rizzo 18
  • Wade Davis 9
  • Tommy La Stella 8
  • Kyle Hendricks 7
  • Ian Happ 6
  • Kyle Schwarber 5
  • Jon Jay 4
  • Eddie Butler 3
  • Mike Montgomery 3
  • Kris Bryant 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Miguel Montero 2
  • Albert Almora 1
  • Brian Duensing 1
  • Felix Pena 1
  • Justin Grimm 1
  • Hector Rondon 0
  • Jason Heyward 0
  • Carl Edwards -2
  • Ben Zobrist -3
  • Willson Contreras -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Jon Lester -5
  • Pedro Strop -5
  • John Lackey -6
  • Koji Uehara -7
  • Addison Russell - 8
  • Jake Arrieta -8
  • Javier Baez -15

Anthony Rizzo adds to his lead, Kyle Schwarber moves up into the 6th spot while Ben Zobrist takes a step back towards even. Addison Russell and Pedro Strop drop closer to the bottom of the list.

Once again, we’ll select the Cuyler Player of the Game (Kiki Cuyler recorded the highest single game WPA in Cubs history). Yesterday, Ian Happ was the clear choice, agreeing with WPA.

Next game is this afternoon with Jon Lester looking to complete the sweep of the Reds. Next column tomorrow morning.

Poll

Who was the player of the game in your opinion?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Ben Zobrist
    (6 votes)
  • 8%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (2 votes)
  • 81%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (60 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please indicate who in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now