That’s more like it. After what I can only describe as slogging through 88 games prior to the All-Star break, the Cubs have busted out of the gate following the break. The Cubs crushed the Braves 8-2 on Wednesday to sweep the Braves following a sweep of the Orioles. Right now the Cubs are firing on almost every cylinders. This finally feels like it did for the last two months and the post season in 2015 and for all but a few weeks in 2016.
The Cubs survived an early scare when Kris Bryant suffered a hand injury in the top of the first inning. But that proved to be merely a speed bump on this day. Mike Montgomery pitched into the fifth inning without allowing a hit and eventually finished six innings in 85 pitches while allowing just one run on two hits. Mike had five strike outs and just one walk. And for good measure he launched a home run. Literally everyone is contributing to the success of this team.
At the plate guys who were natural middle infielders carried this day for the Cubs. Addison Russell had four hits to remain on fire. Javier Baez had two hits including a three run home run and scored twice. In one of the unlikeliest situations I can imagine, Javy is now tied with Kris Bryant for the team lead in batting average among players who would qualify for the batting title. And Tommy La Stella added two hits and a walk in relief of Kris Bryant. Sticking with guys who can play in the middle infield, Ian Happ didn’t have a great day at the plate against the knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, but gets an honorable mention for a late RBI single.
One of the things that excites me the most about this game is that Willson Contreras didn’t play at all, Anthony Rizzo was hitless in five tries and Kris Bryant left after the top of the first inning and this team scored eight times. On the day, “the supporting cast” added 12 hits (Bryant had 1) and three walks. A very team performance.
On these happy thoughts, let’s look at what WPA had to say about the Heroes and Goats for this game. 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 19th:
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Mike Montgomery (.270). A very strong outing for Mike Montgomery. He’s likely headed back to the bullpen with Kyle Hendricks coming off of the disabled list Monday, but Mike continues to be very much in the discussion for the 2018 rotation.
- Hero - Addison Russell (.206). What a day at the plate. Two-out RBI double in the first to make it 1-0 (.108), single leading off the fifth (.037), RBI double in the seventh to make if 4-1 (.060), two-out single in the eighth (amusingly only worth .001). Have a day Addison!
- Sidekick - Tommy La Stella (.112). On a day where he wasn’t penciled into the lineup, he had two hits and a walk. His home run to make the game 3-0 was worth .083 by itself. I always admire guys who don’t get a ton of playing time but contribute when called upon.
THE THEE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Victor Caratini (-.113). Appeared to just miss hitting a home run in one of his at bats, but was ultimately hitless in four tries.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.086). Anthony was one of the guys who didn’t solve the knuckleball riddle. Hitless in five tries. Anthony is a bit of a streaky hitter and despite some recent home runs, he’s in one of his down streaks. Hopefully getting back home gets him back into the groove.
- Kid - Jon Jay (-.062). Jon did finally have a hit in his fifth at bat in the ninth inning after being recorded in his four previous at bats, but the game was lopsided enough by then that the hit was only worth .001.
I’ll give an honorable mention to Javier Baez here who finished fourth in today’s game (.096). Javy’s last four games are all multi hit games. Over that mini stretch, he’s had 10 hits including a double and a homer. He’s had five runs and four RBI. He even had a walk for good measure. In those four games, Javy did show up on the Hero podium once, but also showed up on the Kid podium once. One doesn’t necessarily have to regularly be a hero to be an enormously important player to his team.
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 23
- Wade Davis 13
- Kris Bryant 10
- Kyle Schwarber 7
- Mike Montgomery 7
- Miguel Montero 6
- Jon Jay 5
- Tommy La Stella 5
- Kyle Hendricks 4
- Justin Grimm 3
- Felix Pena 3
- Jose Quintana 3
- Matt Szczur 2
- Brian Duensing 2
- Eddie Butler 1
- Albert Almora Jr. 0
- Mark Zagunis 0
- Ian Happ -1
- Seth Frankoff -1
- Hector Rondon -1
- Dylan Floro -1
- Pedro Strop -2
- Pierce Johnson -3
- Carl Edwards Jr. -3
- Jason Heyward -4
- Brett Anderson -5
- Jeimer Candelario -5
- Victor Caratini -6
- Addison Russell -7
- Jake Arrieta -9
- Jon Lester -11
- Koji Uehara -13
- John Lackey -15
- Ben Zobrist -16
- Javier Baez -23
A lot of movement in the top 10. Contreras now less than 10 behind Anthony Rizzo. Mike Montgomery with a strong move up. Addison Russell trying to leave the double digit negative club very far behind.
The Cubs get a well deserved day off today ahead of facing the Cardinals in a three game series over the weekend. I’ll be back on Monday to recap that one. Hopefully I’ll have at least a couple more wins to talk about. I peeked at all three matchups for the series and Friday’s looks to be the most interesting. Jake Arrieta has had very good success against the Cardinals, but Carlos Martinez is a very good pitcher. Jon Lester and Jose Quintana take the Saturday and Sunday starts against Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. The Cubs have hit the two of them pretty well, particularly lately. But as usual, I expect a dogfight from the Cardinals this weekend.
As always, we’ll end with a poll. Yesterday, Willson Contreras was the choice for Hero of the game for Tuesday night. Today we’ll look at the Hero of Wednesday’s game.
Who was the Cubs Hero of the game.
This poll is closed
Tommy La Stella
Other (leave your suggestion down below in the comments)