When last I posted a Heroes and Goats column, way back on July 7, the Cubs had just got hammered by a surly Brewers team that played with a chip on their shoulder over the “rain-less rain-out” that had them angry for over a month. That loss dropped the Cubs to 42-43. I anticipated the Cubs would follow that up by winning two out of three from a somewhat resurgent Pirates team and that they would reach the All-Star Break at .500. Because that has been what the Cubs have been all year.
So it was none too surprising to me that the Cubs won that day to reach .500 (again! ugh). And while disappointing, not too surprising when they lost the next day. But when they got crushed with Jon Lester on the mound Sunday (10-run first inning. Yikes), I know I wasn’t the only one heading into the All-Star Break surly. I fully expected that barring a cost controlled starter falling into our laps that we had drifted into the land of sellers and not buyers. The Cubs reached the break at their low point of the season, two games under .500 for the second time this season (the last time was on May 31).
And then there was the Jose Quintana trade. Holy cow. I didn’t see that one coming. I know a lot of you pined for it, but I assume most of believed the White Sox would never get reasonable on a deal. They did and though I’m as pained as anyone to see some extremely talented players go to the south side, I’m stoked to get another ace level pitcher on the north side. Make no mistake, Jose Quintana, like Jon Lester has been one of the top pitchers in baseball for the last several seasons. Let’s hope that what we saw this weekend was at least as much a rested and rejuvenated Cubs team that to the eye showed much better plate approach and by and large decent pitching as it was a terrible Baltimore Orioles pitching staff. We shall see.
Hopefully from here out, Heroes and Goats will stay in a steady rhythm with a Monday Weekend Wrap and then columns Tuesday through Friday on days where there is a game the day before. This column will again be an abbreviated no graphs column. At that, we’ll take a look at the Heroes and Goats for these last six games, good times and bad.
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.
Friday, July 7th: Cubs win 6-1
- Superhero - Kris Bryant (.243)
- Hero - Eddie Butler (.174)
- Sidekick - Carl Edwards Jr. (.112)
- Billy Goat - Kyle Schwarber (-.059)
- Goat - Victor Caratini (-.055)
- Kid - Ben Zobrist (-.053)
Saturday, July 8th: Cubs lose 4-2
- Superhero - Kyle Schwarber (.181)
- Hero - Tommy La Stella (.073)
- Sidekick - Brian Duensing (.048)
- Billy Goat - Jake Arrieta (-.293)
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.138)
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.127)
Sunday, July 9th: Cubs lose 14-3
- Superhero - Kris Bryant (.014)
- Hero - Willson Contreras (.010)
- Sidekick - Victor Caratini (.004)
- Billy Goat - Jon Lester (-.483)
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.022)
- Kid - Dylan Floro (-.012)
Friday, July 14th: Cubs win 9-8
- Superhero - Addison Russell (.364)
- Hero - Wade Davis (.209)
- Sidekick - Willson Contreras (.159)
- Billy Goat - Koji Uehara (-.330)
- Goat - Justin Grimm (-.141)
- Kid - Javier Baez (-.100)
Saturday, July 15th: Cubs win 10-3
- Superhero - Jake Arrieta (.216)
- Hero - Albert Almora Jr. (.202)
- Sidekick - Jason Heyward (.137)
- Billy Goat - Ian Happ (-.098)
- Goat - Jon Jay (-.083)
- Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.077)
Sunday, July 16th: Cubs win 8-0
- Superhero - Jose Quintana (.199)
- Hero - Ian Happ (.085)
- Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.082)
- Billy Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.074)
- Goat - Addison Russell (-.052)
- Kid - Jon Jay (-.007)
Lot’s of movement, particularly at the top of the season leader board, particularly after a tough week (WPA-wise) for Anthony Rizzo. Let’s take a look at what those standings look like to date.
With that, let’s take a look at the 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.
Cumulative Standings (Italics indicates no longer with the organization):
- Anthony Rizzo 31
- Willson Contreras 20
- Wade Davis 13
- Kris Bryant 12
- Kyle Schwarber 10
- Jon Jay 8
- Miguel Montero 6
- Mike Montgomery 4
- Kyle Hendricks 4
- Tommy La Stella 4
- Justin Grimm 3
- Felix Pena 3
- Jose Quintana 3
- Matt Szczur 2
- Brian Duensing 2
- Eddie Butler 1
- Albert Almora 1
- Mark Zagunis 0
- Ian Happ -1
- Seth Frankoff -1
- Hector Rondon -1
- Dylan Floro -1
- Pedro Strop -1
- Victor Caratini -3
- Pierce Johnson -3
- Carl Edwards -3
- Jason Heyward -4
- Brett Anderson -5
- Jeimer Candelario -5
- Addison Russell -7
- Jake Arrieta -9
- Koji Uehara -13
- Jon Lester -14
- Ben Zobrist -16
- John Lackey -16
- Javier Baez -24
Willson Contreras is now just 11 points behind Anthony Rizzo. Willson has been smoking hot for a long time now. His season numbers are very good, but going back to May 9 he has a .314/.372/.564 (.370 BABIP) over his last 192 plate appearances. That’s a long stretch of borderline MVP numbers for a catcher. Kris Bryant has also heated up over his last six games, with a .458/.536/.917 stretch powered by a .471 BABIP. Hopefully this is the start of a nice long hot streak for Kris. This team has been missing his MVP level production. For those who haven’t looked, Anthony Rizzo over this six-game stretch has one of those comical lines. He is at .160/.160/.520 and only has a .056 BABIP because in the last six games, three of his four hits have been home runs. Definitely an unusual stretch for Anthony with no walks or hit by pitches, not to mention only one single and no doubles. No doubt he’ll turn it right back around in Atlanta.
The Cubs have won four of six, including three straight on the road for the first time this season. They now stand one game above even for the season. Jon Lester will take the mound with Julio Teheran and the Braves providing the opposition in Atlanta. Jon is of course coming off one of the worst starts of his career, but has had 8 days of rest. Over his last five starts against the Braves, Jon is 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA. Over his last seven starts this season, he is 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA. Julio Teheran is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA in his last five starts against the Cubs, though two of the three best starts were in 2013 and 2014 against very, very different Cubs teams. Julio’s last seven starts before the break look about like his season numbers have, with a 3-2 record and a 4.75 ERA (just below his 4.79 season mark). He was quite good in his last start before the break, throwing seven shut out innings at the Washington Nationals. Don’t be surprised if tonight’s game is more of a pitching duel than anything we saw over the weekend.
We’ll do something a little different today. We finish with a poll and I will often look at the Hero or Goat of the game, while looking at Player of the Week when I do a weekend wrap. Today, let’s look at who has been hot over the last 30 days and vote for who has had the most impact.
Who has had the most positive impact on the Cubs over the last 30 days?
This poll is closed
Willson Contreras (.345/.396/.667)
Kris Bryant (.304/.415/.544)
Anthony Rizzo (.270/.350/.573)
Kyle Schwarber (.226/.351/.548) - 31 AB
Jose Quintana (7 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 12K)
Hector Rondon (11 IP, 7H, 4 BB, 12K, 1.64 ERA)
Wade Davis (8 games, 4 saves in 4 opportunities)
That’s it for today, hopefully I’ll be recapping a fourth straight Cubs win tomorrow. See you all then!