Tuesday night was another soggy one in the Chicagoland area. But Jon Lester wasn’t bothered by the weather or much of anything on this night. Our various columns and comment sections always feature a variety of questions and concerns about different aspects of the Cubs. Several of those questions were answered very positively last night.
There have been questions about the starting pitching. The results haven’t been great, quite a step back from last year. Starters haven’t been going deep. No Cubs starter had thrown a single pitch in the eighth inning until yesterday. Jon Lester kicked that door down and completed the game, giving the bullpen a night off and producing a masterful performance.
Kyle Schwarber has had a very slow start to his first full season in the majors, but he absolutely obliterated a ball last night to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Jason Heyward has been questioned from just about day one with the Cubs and those questions reached a fevered pitch after a terrible 2016 season at the plate. After getting off to a much better start at the plate to start 2017, Jason had cooled a bit surrounding a stay on the disabled list. And then Jason hit a home run last night to make it 2-0. And there were questions yesterday about the Cubs ranking in the middle of the pack in home runs. And Anthony Rizzo provided the third home run of the night with Kris Bryant aboard to make it 4-0. The Giants did get a run back, but the Cubs finished this one with a 4-1 victory to pick up their fifth win of the homestand.
But, you don’t come here for recaps, here we look at what WPA has to say about the game as we look at Heroes and Goats. There obviously aren’t a lot of questions about who the Superhero was for this one, but let’s see what else WPA has in store for us today.
As a reminder, 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 for Tuesday, May 24 (Game 44):
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Lester (.363). This was an obvious one. Jon Lester has started six games in Wrigley Field this year. In those starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and a .875 WHIP. There were some questions as to if Jon was still pitching like an ace, there was no question on this night.
- Hero - Jason Heyward (.087). By the slimmest of margins, Jason takes the hero spot, largely because tonight’s sidekick got one more at bat.
- Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber (.086). Absolutely crushed one in the first inning to give the Cubs a first inning lead. I’ve read a number of articles recently suggesting that given the type of contact Schwarber makes, it’s surprising his results aren’t significantly better. I’m confident we are going to see things turn for him. Hopefully soon.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Ian Happ (-.040). I used editorial discretion to break a tie and put Ian here. He was hitless in three at bats last night as Johnny Cueto was probably the biggest challenge he’s faced to date.
- Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.040). Zobrist did single in the game, but was promptly picked off. That’s a seven-game hitting streak and 21-game streak reaching base for the new leadoff hitter.
- Kid - Addison Russell (-.020). Oof. That’s about all I can say about this one. On April 24, Addison had his OPS all of the way up to .810. Since that day, he is just 10 for 77 with a slash line of .130/.212/.221. It’s probably too early to start questioning if he should be playing every day, but at some point there will be questions.
Before we go, we’ll look at our year to date standings for Heroes and Goats. As a reminder, we award three points for Superhero, two for Hero, and one for Sidekick. And we deduct -3 points for Billy Goat, -2 for Goat and -1 for Kid. Here then are the standings.
Year to Date Standings (italics means player no longer in the organization):
- Anthony Rizzo 16
- Wade Davis 9
- Tommy La Stella 8
- Kyle Hendricks 7
- Jon Jay 7
- Kyle Schwarber 5
- Kris Bryant 3
- Eddie Butler 3
- Matt Szczur 2
- Miguel Montero 2
- Ian Happ 1
- Mike Montgomery 1
- Albert Almora 1
- Felix Pena 1
- Justin Grimm 1
- Hector Rondon 0
- Jon Lester 0
- Ben Zobrist -1
- Brian Duensing -1
- Jason Heyward -1
- Carl Edwards -2
- Willson Contreras -3
- Pierce Johnson -3
- Brett Anderson -5
- Jeimer Candelario -5
- Pedro Strop -5
- Jake Arrieta -5
- Koji Uehara -7
- Addison Russell -9
- John Lackey -9
- Javier Baez -11
Lester gets back to even and Heyward close to even. Meanwhile Addison Russell drops down into a tie for second to last place.
Kyle Hendricks looks to keep things rolling for the Cubs on this homestand where they’ve already won five with just two losses. The game is tonight and it looks like it might not even get rained on for once! I’ll have another column tomorrow to discuss that one.
Yesterday, John Lackey received 88% of the votes for Goat of the game. I’m suspecting we’ll see a similar result today for Player of the Game.
Who was the player of the game for Game 44 in your opinion?
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