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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 77

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What goes up “must” come down.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following along, you are probably aware that the Cubs have basically alternated wins and losses starting with the June 11 game. The one exception to that streak was a game where the Cubs scored late and held on to win, sliding a three-game winning streak into the middle of this run. The net result, from June 11 to present, the Cubs are 9-7. The good news: that is actually a 90-win pace over a full season. And the Cubs have played this stretch totally without Kyle Hendricks, mostly without Ben Zobrist and with limited playing time for Addison Russell and Jason Heyward. And, of course, limited production from Kyle Schwarber. I am confident in saying that all of those guys will play in the second half of the season and likely all will make varying levels of significant contribution to the successes (and failures) of this team.

Obviously, I’m still drinking from a half-full glass. I still believe this team will eventually take control of the N.L. Central. The Colorado Rockies have now dropped seven in a row and though wildcards are never ideal, that previously believed “locked” position could be coming back into play.

If you want to be drinking from a half-empty cup, you are probably noticing that April 25 was the last time the Cubs won back to back road games. Ironically, the Cubs won eight of their first 12 road games, taking exactly two out of three in each of four series and in every one of them, the two wins were back to back. Since that last set of back to back wins, the Cubs are just 9-18 on the road. Obviously the Cubs need to find a way to play better baseball away from Wrigley Field.

Three paragraphs in and I haven’t discussed last night’s game. Let’s be fair, Al recaps the game and you’ll have read everything you need to know about last night’s game over there. It wasn’t pretty. I will offer this. I know a lot of people are frustrated with Jake Arrieta. I suspect some of them are probably really frustrated with the Arrieta/Miguel Montero combination and the seven stolen bases last night. Interestingly, the problems last night with walks, infield hits and stolen bases haven’t been at all what was wrong with Jake this year. With the seven steals last night, Jake has now allowed 15 on the year. As with Jon Lester, the best defense for having trouble with base runners is to allow fewer base runners.

No matter how frustrating or awful a game is, we keep moving forward. In this instance that means taking a look at what WPA says about Heroes and Goats last night. 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 Tuesday, June 27:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Kris Bryant (.074). Another pattern regular readers of this column might notice is that I post about Kris Bryant struggling over the last month and a half and he gets a big hit the next day. I’ll try to keep suggesting he’s struggling and see if it works.
  • Hero - Willson Contreras (.010). Uh oh. It’s getting ugly when a WPA of .010 is up here. I had long stopped following this game before Willson had a pinch hit walk in the seventh inning. I like Jon Jay, but I see that he immediately followed Willson’s walk by grounding into a double play.
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.003). This is the worst WPA on the hero podium since I took over. Anthony was hit by a pitch leading off the ball game. He scored the only run. Things looked good for one half inning.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Jake Arrieta (-.258). Over his last 12 starts, Jake has seven losses as he’s thrown just 64 innings over that stretch, allowing 70 hits and 43 runs (only 36 were earned). He’s struck out 64 which is good and walked 26 which isn’t awful. He’s hit four batters and allowed eight home runs. All in all, that adds up to a 5.06 ERA. Opponents are hitting .277/.351/.447 (.339 BABIP). Basically, he’s turning every hitter into a decent but not great hitter. Not pretty.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (-.069). He was hitless in four tries to end his seven game hitting streak. He ends up here because two of the four outs game with runners on base.
  • Kid - Jon Jay (-.055). Hitless in three tries. I already told you he grounded into a double play. For a decently fast hitter, Jay has grounded into nine double plays already this year. He is on pace for a career high set back in 2014 with the Cardinals when he grounded into 17 of them. He’s getting much less playing time now than he was then and so his rate is significantly higher this year.

The right guys show up on the hero podium (other than of course always wanting to see the starting pitcher up there), but just not enough positive momentum created.

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 34
  • Willson Contreras 11
  • Kyle Schwarber 10
  • Mike Montgomery 10
  • Wade Davis 10
  • Kris Bryant 7
  • Miguel Montero 6
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Tommy La Stella 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Eddie Butler 2
  • Jon Jay 1
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Ian Happ -1
  • Carl Edwards -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -2
  • Pedro Strop -2
  • Albert Almora -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
  • Jon Lester -10
  • Jake Arrieta -12
  • John Lackey -12
  • Javier Baez -22

Willson slides up into second on this list. Jake Arrieta moves down to second from the bottom. Four of the five starters that opened the season being in the bottom 10 is absolutely burying the Cubs all too often. The starting pitching has mostly been better for a while now. Last night was not one of those nights.

As always, we’ll end with a poll. Yesterday on a day where I thought it was tough to choose one Hero, 70 percent of you voted Javier Baez as the Hero of the game. Javy is easily one of the most beloved Cubs. Today we’ll vote for the Goat of the game. I have some ideas what the voting might look like today, but we’ll see what you think.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Goat of the game?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Jake Arrieta
    (70 votes)
  • 1%
    Ian Happ
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Jon Jay
    (0 votes)
  • 47%
    Miguel Montero
    (69 votes)
  • 2%
    Other (Please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (3 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now