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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 72

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Cubs bats explode, Arrieta dominant in Cubs win.

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

What a hectic day yesterday was to be a Cubs fan. On a day in late June, it is easy for things to be mundane. Pennant races don’t really heat up until August and September. The trade deadline is still over a month away and the trade market isn’t likely to get moving before the All-Star break. And so the story very well should have been the Cubs are heading out on an 11-game road trip through the eastern time zone with one of the best teams in the National League right in the middle of the trip.

But alas, the story of yesterday was the demotion of Kyle Schwarber. Coupled with Jason Heyward going on the disabled list, the entire opening day outfield is currently off of the roster. Ben Zobrist did not make the trip, at least initially, and wasn’t yet sent to rehab either, so it is possible this will continue for a while longer. We did learn that Kyle Hendricks is progressing and could start throwing soon, but this team is still quite a bit banged up.

And that backdrop of course leads to a lopsided Cubs victory. The Cubs jumped on the Marlins early with two in the second and then added runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta was pitching one of his best games of the year. In one of those wins that felt very much like 2016, the Cubs battered an opponent. This still figures to be a very tough road trip, but it got off to a great start.

On that high note, 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 Thursday, June 22:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Kris Bryant (.181). All right, I’ll shut up for a day or two about his recent slump. Kris had the biggest blow of the day with his three-run home run in the fourth inning to push the Cubs lead to 5-1. For good measure, he also singled and walked, scoring both times. Kris leads the Cubs with 48 walks and 48 runs scored.
  • Hero - Jake Arrieta (.132). Seven innings of six-hit, no-walk baseball. One of the hits was a home run and he did it on only 82 pitches. He probably could have pitched the eighth were it needed. By game score (64), this was the fourth best start of 2017 for Jake. Jake remains a pitcher capable of pretty dominant starts.
  • Sidekick - Ian Happ (.119). Ian Happ has been on a home run barrage. But last night, he failed to hit one. Instead, he had four hits including a double and two runs batted in. This night pushed his season line to .246/.331/.585 and increased his season BABIP from .246 to .292. There was no reason for Ian to sustain a low BABIP given how hard he hits the ball and decent speed, so this was something I’ve been looking for. With 134 plate appearances, we are starting to get away from small sample size.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.126). Playing close to home, he was just about the only Cub not to get in on the fun. Hitless in five tries and two strike outs and also ground into one of the more unusual double plays I’ve seen.
  • Goat - Mark Zagunis (-.018). Tough love for a guy making his debut as this WPA rarely gets a mention in this column. Mark was drafted two rounds after Kyle Schwarber and with the outfield struggles, he’s getting his first chance to play in the majors. He did hit a ball that looked like it was going to get through the infield, but ended up resulting in and a fielder’s choice and his first run driven in. Otherwise was hitless in five at bats with two strike outs.
  • Kid - Javier Baez (-.016). And even tougher love for Javier who did actually have a double and an intentional walk in this game. When only four players have negative WPA, it’s a great thing for the team, but someone is going to have a tough luck visit to the podium.

On paper, last night looked like a favorable matchup and though baseball often scoffs at what’s on paper, it held true for one night. Here’s hoping this portends to a good road trip.

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
  • Kris Bryant 7
  • Tommy La Stella 5
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Justin Grimm 4
  • Ian Happ 4
  • Jon Jay 4
  • Miguel Montero 3
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Albert Almora -1
  • Eddie Butler -1
  • Carl Edwards -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -2
  • Mark Zagunis -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
  • Jake Arrieta -9
  • Jon Lester -10
  • John Lackey -14
  • Javier Baez -26

Albert Almora drops below break even and Jake Arrieta moves out of negative double digits for the year. Javy increases his grasp on the cellar with his tough luck podium visit.

The Cubs will play the Marlins again tonight with John Lackey on the hill. John has struggled lately, but he looked pretty good in his last start. I’ll return on Monday with a column covering the final three games of this series. For what paper is worth, the most favorable matchup for the Cubs looks like Saturday. With tonight’s looking most favorable for the Marlins and Sunday looking like a very good matchup. Hopefully the Cubs can win a couple more.

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday in fairly close voting, you selected Koji Uehara as the Goat of game 71. Today, we’ll end on a happier note, by selecting the Hero of game 72.

Poll

Who was the Hero of game 72 in your opinion?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Kris Bryant
    (25 votes)
  • 57%
    Jake Arrieta
    (74 votes)
  • 2%
    Ian Happ
    (3 votes)
  • 20%
    Addison Russell
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (Please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
128 votes total Vote Now