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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 40

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Sweep Sensation! Cubs win 9-5.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

These days, there is nothing like the Reds to cure what ails the Cubs. After dropping one game under .500, more than a few of the natives were getting restless. But three straight wins puts the Cubs two games over, two games out of first and provides some calm for the time being.

These games felt the most like 2016 that any games have this year. The Cubs scored early and often, got solid starting pitching and looked like the juggernaut we all believe that they can be. Once again, the lineup looks daunting for opposing pitchers as hitter after hitter grinds their at bats, running up pitch counts, taking walks and forcing the opposing pitchers to constantly pitch in traffic.

For the second day in a row, the Cubs jumped out to a huge lead very early. That tends to produce most of the WPA early in the game. So there will usually be some unusual results. Let’s dive into the results from yesterday and see if there are any oddities.

As always, the Heroes and Goats themselves 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:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Javier Baez (.242). So far in 2017, Javier has been stuck deep in the basement of the cumulative standings. Yesterday that was not the case as Javy put on the cape and took on the Superhero role by taking a 1-2 hanging slider out of the park with two outs and the bases loaded. That at bat alone was worth .232 WPA and for good measure he added two more hits and a walk. For the day he was 3 for 3 with five RBI and two runs.
  • Hero - Jon Lester (.131). Jon was on track for his best start of the year, efficiently working through six dominant innings while the Cubs were jumping out to a 9-0 lead. Unfortunately, three straight singles started his seventh inning and so the final line doesn’t look quite as good.
  • Sidekick - Addison Russell (.086). Addison was on the goat podium for the first two games of this series as he failed to do anything early in these games while the game was still close. But this time, he had a very nice at bat in the first inning. He came up with the bases loaded and two outs and ultimately worked a walk to bring home the first run of the game and set up Javy’s slam.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Brian Duensing (-.053). Brian looked very good in first inning of work, working a 1-2-3 inning. But then he went back out for a second inning that didn’t go well at all. Two singles and a hit by pitch was enough to force Joe to bring in Uehara for one of the more unusual saves you’ll ever see. From the fifth inning to the ninth, the game was at a 97-99% win probability, so this was a tough trick to pull getting onto the podium in this one.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (-.026). This is the first of two “tough crowd” podium spots for the day. Happ was 2 for 4 with a walk to continue the torrid start to his major league career. Unfortunately for him, this day was one where sequencing was everything for a hitter. Ian flew out with runners on first and second in the first resulting in (-.043) and surely causing at least a few people to groan and think we were going to see the game start with runners in scoring position woes.
  • Kid - Ben Zobrist (-.016). And here is the other “tough crowd” podium spot. Ben was also 2 for 4 before leaving the game to get a few innings off after missing several days already this year with back problems. Ben also flew out in the first inning, batting in the leadoff spot. Just the same, I’m really, really happy to see Ben with back to back two hit games as his OPS+ rises to 96.

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

  • Anthony Rizzo 18
  • Wade Davis 9
  • Tommy La Stella 8
  • Kyle Hendrics 7
  • Kyle Schwarber 5
  • Ian Happ 4
  • Jon Jay 4
  • Eddie Butler 3
  • Mike Montgomery 3
  • Kris Bryant 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Miguel Montero 2
  • Albert Almora 1
  • Felix Pena 1
  • Justin Grimm 1
  • Hector Rondon 0
  • Jason Heyward 0
  • Brian Duensing -2
  • Carl Edwards -2
  • Jon Lester -3
  • Ben Zobrist -4
  • Willson Contreras -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Pedro Strop -5
  • John Lackey -6
  • Koji Uehara -7
  • Addison Russell -7
  • Jake Arrieta -8
  • Javier Baez -12

Quite a bit of movement near the bottom of this list as five of the six Heroes and Goats now have a negative score for the year. Hopefully the young middle infield duo can use this game as a launching pad to a hot streak.

Once again, we’ll select the Cuyler Player of the Game (Kiki Cuyler recorded the highest single game WPA in Cubs History). Yesterday, Kyle Hendricks was the run away choice.

Next game is this afternoon with Eddie Butler looking to follow up on his very strong Cubs debut next week as they look for four in a row. Next column Monday morning when I’ll recap the three-game set with the Brewers.

Poll

Who was the player of the game in your opinion?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Javier Baez
    (67 votes)
  • 18%
    Jon Lester
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Addison Russell
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Koji Uehara
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please indicate who in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now