This series was one that provided several reminders. On Monday night, we were reminded that baseball is weird sometimes and can be hard. The Giants have one of the most anemic offenses in baseball this year and yet be it John Lackey’s stuff or the 15 miles per hour blowing out or just baseball randomness, the Giants were slugging the ball all over the yard. The Cubs rally came up short in that one, but then there was another reminder. Over time, given reasonable health, the best teams do rise to the top in MLB. And slowly but surely it appears that the Cubs are starting to rise to the top.
The Giants offense returned to mediocrity or worse over the last three games of this series. The Cubs won three out of four in the series and seven of nine overall for this home stand. Coupled with losses by the Brewers and Cardinals last night the Cubs are all alone in first place, at least for one day. A weekend battle with the Los Angeles Dodgers in L.A. awaits. This is a series and actually a road trip that makes me roll my eyes. This weekend the Cubs play three games at three different start times and the road trip as a whole sees them play six games with five different start times. And of course they are two time zones away and so none of those start times is one that the Cubs would use while at home.
Getting to Thursday’s game, our old friend the first-inning run popped up, no doubt raising some concerns in Cub nation. But after the Giants scored a run in the first, Kris Bryant homered to tie. The Cubs added solo shots by Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist in the fifth and sixth innings and the Cubs cruised to victory.
Without further delay, we’ll get to today’s Heroes and Goats as determined by WPA. 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 Thursday, May 25 (Game 46):
THE THREE HEROES:
- Super Hero - Mike Montgomery (.238). Come in with a 2-1 lead and throw four shutout innings, that’s going to put you up here most times.
- Hero - Eddie Butler (.176). Can’t say that I expected to see two pitchers end up on the top two podium spots, but we’ll take it. That’s incredibly unlikely to happen in a loss.
- Sidekick - Ben Zobrist (.105). When Ben Zobrist gets hot, he swings a very dangerous bat. He’s now reached base in 22 consecutive games encompassing 86 plate appearances and over that time he has a .321/.384/.577 line.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Javier Baez (-.102). Javy made one really nice play in the field, but at the plate he was hitless in three tries filling in at shortstop.
- Goat - Kyle Schwarber (-.063). This was a frustrating day for Kyle without doubt. Four trips to the plate and four strike outs. If Kyle doesn’t turn it around, I’m going to go right down with him because I’m just going to keep saying this will turn around any day now.
- Kid - Ian Happ (-.026). Despite a few appearances down here in this series, this game didn’t show anything to worry about with Happ. He had two very nice plays in the outfield that I saw and also had a hit and walk. This one is more of a tough crowd goat appearance as excluding pitchers hitting there were only 4 Cubs with a negative WPA.
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
- Eddie Butler 5
- Mike Montgomery 4
- Kyle Schwarber 3
- Miguel Montero 3
- Kris Bryant 2
- Matt Szczur 2
- Felix Pena 1
- Justin Grimm 1
- Hector Rondon 0
- Jon Lester 0
- Ben Zobrist 0
- Brian Duensing -1
- Jason Heyward -1
- Ian Happ -2
- 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 -14
Javier Baez once again drops to 14 below and extends his lead. Hopefully he continues his strong play over the last month on the upcoming road trip and climbs out of the cellar.
As noted, the Cubs head out on a west coast trip for their next six games. Jake Arrieta will be on the hill tonight in Los Angeles where he threw a no hitter in 2015 during his memorable Cy Young season. Let’s hope he can have another solid start tonight and give the Cubs a chance to win against a tough Dodgers team. I’m going to be away for the weekend and will probably not post again until Tuesday when I’ll do a weekend wrap post for the Dodgers series and a separate one for the first of the Padres games on Monday.
As always, we will close with a poll. Yesterday you gave Anthony Rizzo 74% of the vote for Player of the Game for Wednesday night’s game. Today we’ll vote on the Player of the Game for Thursday afternoon’s game.
Who was the Player of the Game for Game 46 in your opinion?
This poll is closed
Other (Please specify in the comments below)