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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 71

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Cubs bats go silent; bullpen fails to hold lead

One shining moment
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

For me, it was good to get out to Wrigley Field for the second time this year. The sun was shining but we had a nice shady spot along the first baseline near the foul pole. We had a great view of the home run by Ian Happ. I got to enjoy the game with my two daughters and one of their friends. It was a beautiful day for me.

It was not a beautiful day for the Cubs. From the first inning Eddie Butler battled his command. The bats struggled. The bullpen couldn’t shoulder the burden of five innings of relief, with the final indignity of walking a 21-year-old rookie catcher with an OPS+ of 43 that derives from his .206/.275/.254 line. I suppose somewhere there is karma in that it’s very possible Luis Torrens wouldn’t have been playing had the Padres starting catcher not gotten banged up in the collision with Anthony Rizzo earlier in the series.

Meatloaf definitely doesn’t taste quite as good when it means that you lost four of six to one of the worst teams in the league for the season. But alas, that’s how it is. The Cardinals and Brewers won and the NL Central remains very tight with four teams separated by five games with around 90 games each to play. It’s hard to imagine this one doesn’t go down to the wire.

Let’s dive into last nights game and see what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. 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 Wednesday, June 21:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Ian Happ (.184). On June 10th and 11th, Ian was only used as a pinch hitter and on June 12th, he wasn’t used at all. Since that time, Ian is .258/.324/.806 (amusingly, only a .176 BABIP during that time due to five of his eight hits being home runs). Ian has a season line of .221/.313/.566 with a BABIP of .246. Objectively there is no reason that his BABIP shouldn’t progress towards league average and so combined with the on base and slugging skills he’s shown so far, you don’t have to squint a lot to see a guy who can be a star.
  • Hero - Justin Grimm (.156). Justin came in with a runner on 1st after Eddie Butler allowed a run scoring single to Jose Pirela to cut the lead to 2-1. Grimm struck out to of the three hitters he faced and got a pop up out of the other. Over his last 10 outings, Justin has thrown 11 innings and allowed just one run while striking out 17 and walking only two. A guy who looked to have lost his way now looks like one of the steadiest arms in the pen.
  • Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.087). Pedro threw the seventh inning after the Padres had tied the score and retired the side in order.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.200). Say it ain’t so. The longest hitting streak of Rizzo’s career and his impressive lead off streak both came to a screeching halt. Rizzo was hitless in four tries, but lands here largely because of the double play he hit into in the third inning when the game was still 0-0. The other three at bats all lead off innings.
  • Goat - Koji Uehara (-.198). As I noted above, the decisive run was scored on a walk issued to a weak hitting rookie catcher. Koji was the pitcher who allowed that walk. It was the second walk of the inning (the other was a Manfred) along with two hits.
  • Kid - Brian Duensing (-.130). Brian faced two batters. He struck out one. The other homered to tie the game. It was the fifth home run surrendered by Brian this year in 31 innings.

It’s hard to win baseball games when your starting pitching is ineffective simultaneously with your offense going cold. Definitely hated to see that one get away after Happ homered to give the team a two run lead.

Let’s 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 35
  • Kyle Schwarber 10
  • Mike Montgomery 10
  • Wade Davis 9
  • Willson Contreras 7
  • Tommy La Stella 5
  • Kris Bryant 4
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Justin Grimm 4
  • Jon Jay 3
  • Miguel Montero 3
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Ian Happ 3
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Albert Almora 2
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Eddie Butler -1
  • Carl Edwards -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Pedro Strop -3
  • Jason Heyward -4
  • Addison Russell -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Ben Zobrist -8
  • Koji Uehara -9
  • Jon Lester -10
  • Jake Arrieta -11
  • John Lackey -14
  • Javier Baez -24

Anthony Rizzo’s march towards +40 takes a big step backwards. Ian Happ moves into the positive side of the ledger. Koji Uehara drops into the bottom five.

Tonight the Cubs open an 11 game road trip tonight to finish the current stretch of 17 games without a day off. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I believe that if the team can tread water through the last of this stretch, that this team can still take control and win this division. But first, it has to survive this stretch. Jake Arrieta will take the hill. In three lifetime starts against the Marlins, he’s thrown 17 innings with a 1.42 ERA and 23 strike outs against 4 walks. Jeff Locke takes the hill for the Marlins. He owns a 9.00 ERA in his last five appearances against the Cubs and allowed at least four runs in each. He also own a 7.26 ERA over his last seven starts dating back to last year, having allowed at least run in all of those (The one run game was against the Diamondbacks though. Go figure.) I’ll have a recap of that one tomorrow morning.

As always, we’ll finish with a poll. Yesterday, 82% of you chose Mike Montgomery as the Hero of game 70. Today, we’ll vote on the Goat of game 71. I think you could tab quite a number of guys or the offense collectively for that one, so I’ll give you a number of options.

Poll

Who was the Goat of game 71?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (4 votes)
  • 45%
    Koji Uehara
    (31 votes)
  • 5%
    Brian Duensing
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Eddie Butler
    (4 votes)
  • 35%
    All of the offensive players not named Ian
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (please leave your answer in the comments below).
    (1 vote)
68 votes total Vote Now