After the dominating performance of Jon Lester on Tuesday night, the Cubs were looking for back-to-back wins with Kyle Hendricks on the mound. After each team was scoreless in the first, Kyle allowed a run in the top of the second and once again the Cubs would be starting this one out playing uphill.
Anthony Rizzo answered in the bottom of the second with a solo home run. When Kyle Hendricks allowed a solo home run to start the third, I wondered if we would be looking at a slug fest, which was a little disappointing given how good Kyle had looked lately. But then it was like 2016 all over again. Kyle Hendricks reverted to all he does is get guys out form. He retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced in finishing seven innings. And he did so in an efficient 98 pitches. Joe seems to be very willing to let Hendricks work 95-100 pitches, so it really is just a matter of how efficient Kyle can be. Last night, he was very efficient.
This one got tense late as the Cubs had to escape jams in the eighth and the ninth (after Wade Davis had allowed a two-run home run to cut the lead to one). When the game is tight late, it can significantly alter the podium for Heroes and Goats. Let’s take a look at last night’s WPA scores.
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 Wednesday, May 25 (Game 45):
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Anthony Rizzo (.303). Anthony hit two home runs, one to tie the game at 1-1 and another to tie it at 2-2. That’s a great recipe for reaching the superhero podium.
- Hero - Kyle Hendricks (.212). As we talked about yesterday in the game recap, Kyle hasn’t been a recipient of a lot of run support. Last night, he got five runs and he pitched well enough to put the team in position to win.
- Sidekick - Miguel Montero (.144). Inserted into the lineup against a left handed pitcher on a rare occasion (Matt Moore has had some odd splits this year), Miggy produced a single in the fifth and doubled and scored in the seventh.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Albert Almora (-.106). Albert batted second in this one, but didn’t contribute at the plate as he was hitless in four tries.
- Goat - Ian Happ (-.085). Ian was also hitless while batting fifth. He did draw a walk but didn’t figure in any of the scoring. This is one of the things the Cubs look for. It’s been a tough couple of days at the plate for Happ. How does he respond and adjust?
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.075). Kris was also hitless while batting third. He also drew a walk in the game, but didn’t figure in the scoring.
If you glanced down here and saw your second, third and fifth hitters all on the goats podiums you’d have to be a little nervous. But, with the two homers from Rizzo and the strong outing from Hendricks as well as some narrow escapes from the bullpen and the Cubs were able to hold on and win.
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 19
- Wade Davis 9
- Kyle Hendricks 9
- Tommy La Stella 8
- Jon Jay 7
- Kyle Schwarber 5
- Eddie Butler 3
- Miguel Montero 3
- Kris Bryant 2
- Matt Szczur 2
- Mike Montgomery 1
- Felix Pena 1
- Justin Grimm 1
- Hector Rondon 0
- Jon Lester 0
- Ian Happ -1
- Ben Zobrist -1
- Brian Duensing -1
- Jason Heyward -1
- Albert Almora -2
- 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
Recently, there has been a lot of movement towards the bottom. Today, all of the Heroes and Goats started the game on the positive side. Anthony Rizzo extended his lead at the top and Albert Almora and Ian Happ slipped into negative territory.
Eddie Butler takes the mound today in a game I will actually be attending in an afternoon game as the Cubs look for three wins in a row and a 7-2 homestand.
Yesterday, Jon Lester received 153 out of 156 votes for Player of the Game. Let’s see what you think in today’s poll:
Who was the player of the game for Game 45 in your opinion?
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