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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 76

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The Cubs hold on to win 5-4 in a wild finish.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
Butler picks up win with five scoreless innings.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Phew. That was a crazy one. Al talked about one of the weekend games in Miami as a tale of two games. This was definitely one of those. Willson Contreras homered leading off the game and in a game that looked like it might wrap up at about the two and a half hour mark, the game remained 1-0 through the seventh. It was the seventh though, after the game had been handed to the relievers that the game started to slow down.

Eddie Butler gave the Cubs five scoreless innings and Gio Gonzalez gave the Nationals six innings with only the one run. In a 1-0 game though, each reliever threw knowing that every pitch was going to matter and the game slowed to a crawl and then eventually a standstill. In the eighth, the Cubs added a run on a beautiful squeeze bunt by Albert Almora, Jr. The Cubs also added three more runs in the ninth and it looked like this would be one of those games where the final score didn’t indicate just how close the game was.

Hector Rondon started the ninth and allowed a double and a single around a nice diving catch by Jon Jay in left field. At that point Joe Maddon went to Wade Davis who has been almost universally dominant this year. He was greeted with a pair of doubles and a walk (the only walk issued by Cubs pitchers on the night). He got a strike out and then allowed another single. He threw a wild pitch and suddenly there were runners on second and third in a 5-4 ball game. Fortunately, he was able to record the strike out and after Contreras threw to first for the putout, the Cubs had held on to win this one. What a crazy game.

On that happy note, let’s look at 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 Monday, June 26:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Eddie Butler (.306). The line looks great. Five scoreless innings, four hits and importantly no walks. After laboring through four innings in his last start, there appeared to be a clear intent to pitch to contact. It was scary, but effective. Butler is now 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA (4.29 FIP) since joining the rotation. Certainly those numbers are fine, but he averages less than five innings per start, which isn’t really good enough.
  • Hero - Albert Almora Jr. (.109). This is the first time I’ve had to break a tie since I started running this column. Albert Almora batted four times Monday and reached base all four times including three walks and the beautiful bunt with runners on first and third in a 1-0 ball game to drive in a run. With the great day, his on-base percentage is now .345. With the league average at .325, Albert now has an above average on base percentage. With very good defense, that is increasing his value to the team.
  • Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.109). Strop worked the seventh inning and did allow a double, but recorded two strikeouts while preserving a 1-0 lead.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Kris Bryant (-.101). Hitless in four tries, three of which ended innings, stranding two runners. Did get intentionally walked and score in the ninth which ended up being an important run. Dating to May 6th, Kris Bryant has a .205/.374/.453 over 187 plate appearances. His walk and strike out rates are good over that time (18.2/20.9) and his ISO is still there, but his BABIP is way down at .212. Kris is long over due for a hot streak at the plate.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (-.062). Ian had a hit in the ninth inning after being retired four previous times on the night. He did then score from first on a Javier Baez double which ended up being the decisive run of the game. He had two strike outs earlier in the game, but batting after Bryant was usually leading off an inning.
  • Kid - Jon Jay (-.048). This was actually a second tie as Addison Russell also recorded the same WPA. Each man pinch hit and each man was retired, but Jay hit into an inning ending double play in his at bat.

Definitely a weird looking WPA game as Wade Davis ends up positive despite allowing three hits, two walks, and two runs while only recording two outs. Javier Baez had two hits, a run and an RBI and barely registers by WPA (at least in part because of the three strike outs he had). And Brian Duensing almost made the goat podium for allowing just one hit that didn’t end up scoring (because he didn’t record any outs).

Let’s move on to 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 33
  • Kyle Schwarber 10
  • Mike Montgomery 10
  • Wade Davis 10
  • Willson Contreras 9
  • Miguel Montero 6
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Kris Bryant 4
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Jon Jay 2
  • Tommy La Stella 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Eddie Butler 2
  • Ian Happ 1
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Carl Edwards -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -2
  • Pedro Stop -2
  • Albert Almora, Jr. -2
  • Mark Zagunis -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Jason Heyward -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Addison Russell -6
  • Ben Zobrist -8
  • Koji Uehara -9
  • Jake Arrieta -9
  • Jon Lester -10
  • John Lackey -12
  • Javier Baez -22

This was a day of movement towards the center. The three heroes all came into the day with negative cumulative scores and the three goats all came in with positive season scores.

The Cubs will try once again to get a winning streak going tonight as they face the Nationals again in Washington. Jake Arrieta takes the mound against reigning National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Max has a 1.36 ERA over his last seven starts, so the Cubs have their work cut out for them. I will have a recap of that game tomorrow morning.

Before we go, we’ll end with a poll. Yesterday Ian Happ was the selection for Player of the Week. Today we’ll vote for Hero of the game.

Poll

Who was the Chicago Cubs Hero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Eddie Butler
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    Albert Almora
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Pedro Strop
    (0 votes)
  • 8%
    Willson Contreras
    (16 votes)
  • 70%
    Javier Baez
    (127 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (Please leave your suggestion in the comments below).
    (1 vote)
181 votes total Vote Now