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Cubs Heroes and Goats weekend wrap: Games 66-68

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The Cubs win two of three to move back to .500.

Willson Contreras with two hero podium appearances on the weekend
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I have returned from my vacation and let’s see what there is to see. I last recapped a Cubs win on June 5, their fourth straight win to move to 29-27. Since that time, the Cubs have won just five of 12 games and once again they are at .500. If I’m counting right, this is 14 times that the Cubs have been at .500 so far this season. That includes every other day since June 9 as the Cubs have been alternating one loss and one win.

This weekend, the Cubs took two of three from the Pirates. I, along with many of you I’m sure, keep hoping that this team is going to get hot. It sure would be nice if they had a good week this week behind the decent weekend in Pittsburgh as the Washington Nationals loom next week and figure to be a very formidable opponent, though they’ve cooled off from their blistering start to the season a little bit. Alas, can’t look forward before we look back, so let’s get to it.

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 Friday, June 16:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Willson Contreras (.516). Two run double in the first and an RBI double in the ninth to tie the game. The latter was worth .320 by itself.
  • Hero - Jason Heyward (.208). Jason and Willson were a bit of a dynamic duo in this one with Heyward walking ahead of one Contreras double and doubling ahead of the other and scored on each.
  • Sidekick - Ian Happ (.205). I’m not always sure what to make of Happ. I’ve thought at times that he should be back in AAA, but in June he has a line of .234/.321/.681. With all of the bumps and bruises and with a slugging percentage that is now at .544 over his first 118 plate appearances, he continues to contribute to the struggling offense.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Eddie Butler (-.170). Over seven starts, Eddie is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA at home and 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA on the road. The peripherals aren’t massively different though, so maybe not a thing. But something I’m keeping an eye on.
  • Goat - Kyle Schwarber (-.159). Ugh. Kyle was hitless in five plate appearances. He did get to score a run after reaching on a fielder’s choice, but it was not a great day at the plate. If you were looking for a positive, he didn’t strike out.
  • Kid - Pedro Strop (-.144). Came into a tie game with a man on third and promptly allowed a go ahead single before getting out of the inning.

Game Chart for Saturday, June 17:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Brian Duensing (.065). Well, it’s never going to be good when A) .065 is up here and B) a middle reliever who only faced one batter is up here. But kudos for Duensing for getting out of a bases loaded jam and preserve a one run deficit.
  • Hero - Carl Edwards (.040). One scoreless seventh inning in a one run game. Nice to see a couple of scoreless outings after that rough one he had in New York.
  • Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.028). Clean sweep for the bullpen. Pedro worked the scoreless eighth inning as the Cubs bullpen did everything they could to try to give the bats a chance to pull this one out.
  • Honorable Mention - Jake Arrieta (.229). We don’t include pitcher’s hitting, but that was clearly the bright spot of this game as his two run homer tied the game at two in the fifth. (And was one of the few home runs I’ve called this year!)

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Jake Arrieta (-.237). Same old story, generally looks very good, but whenever he is off a little bit, he’s getting hit a whole lot. Not at all the season we expected heading into free agency.
  • Goat - Javier Baez (-.123). Two fly outs, a sacrifice bunt and a strike out.
  • Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.106). Got the call to pinch hit with two on and one out in a one run game in the eighth and flew out.

Game Chart for Sunday, June 18:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - John Lackey (.219). Can’t sugar coat that this has been a tough season for John, but this was a good one. Only five base runners over six innings of work.
  • Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.195). It would be so easy to cherry pick the games since he was moved to the lead off spot or his twelve game hitting streak, but let’s go back further. Over the last 61 games, Anthony has hit .274/.408/.544. 277 plate appearances of a 43 home run, 120 RBI pace. Basically sacrificing a little batting average for a fair amount more on base percentage from last year. Very quietly until recently, having his usual awesome season.
  • Sidekick - Willson Contreras (.176). Drove in the first three runs with two doubles in the first three innings. Not quite as flashy as last Father’s Day against these Pirates, but twice on the hero podium in two starts was a very strong weekend performance.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.084). Got the rare start in the fifth spot in the order. Line out, strike out, ground out, strike out. Three times he made the last out of an inning and in total left four men on base, all in scoring position.
  • Goat - Tommy La Stella (-.064). Also got a rare start, in the sixth spot. Ground out, ground out, ground out, fly out. The biggest difference is that he was generally making the first out of the inning.
  • Kid - Jason Heyward (-.054). Grounded out and lined out to second before becoming the most recent Cub to leave a game injured.

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 36
  • Kyle Schwarber 10
  • Wade Davis 9
  • Mike Montgomery 7
  • Willson Contreras 7
  • Kris Bryant 7
  • Tommy La Stella 6
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Jon Jay 4
  • Miguel Montero 3
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Justin Grimm 2
  • Ian Happ 2
  • Brian Duensing 1
  • Eddie Butler -1
  • Albert Almora -1
  • Carl Edwards -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Jason Heyward -4
  • Pedro Strop -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Addison Russell -6
  • Koji Uehara -7
  • Ben Zobrist -8
  • Jon Lester -10
  • Jake Arrieta -11
  • John Lackey -14
  • Javier Baez -21

Anthony Rizzo has been a fixture at the top of the Heroes and Goats lists for much of the last three seasons, so that much is business as usual. Last year, most of his closest competition came from the starting rotation. This year, the starting rotation occupies three of the bottom four spots on this list. Those three pitchers are going to have to get it in gear if this team is going to take control of the NL Central at any point.

As always, I will leave you with a poll. This time, we’ll again look at player of the week. I suspect this one will be a landslide, but let’s take a look.

Poll

Who was last week’s player of the week for the Cubs?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Anthony Rizzo (.417/.500/.917) - Three HR, eight RBI
    (118 votes)
  • 0%
    Ian Happ (.286/.348/.810) - Three HR, six RBI
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Addison Russell (.294/.333/.765) - Two HR, six RBI
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Willson Contreras (.333/.400/.556) - Four 2B, six RBI
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jon Lester (7 innings, 1 run, 10/1 K/BB, win)
    (1 vote)
123 votes total Vote Now

The Cubs return home tonight against the Padres. Jon Lester will be on the mound against old friend Clayton Richard. The Cubs will be looking to avenge the sweep they suffered a few weeks ago at the hands of a very bad Padres team.