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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 85

The Cubs got crushed 11 to 2.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
The Brewers had all of the fun yesterday
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I was fortunate enough to be away last week and not have to recap last Friday’s game where we actually had a player with a negative score on the hero podium for the first time since I’ve been handling the column. I wondered until I opened Fangraphs this morning if today would be another one of those games. Interestingly, despite how fast this one got lopsided, this was not one of those games.

Regardless of what WPA says, make no mistake, that was an ugly game. It was a discouraging game. I know from the reaction I got in the game threads yesterday that I’ll get strong disagreements, but this to me has been as disappointing a Cubs season as I can ever remember. The obvious response is recency bias. 2004 is probably the closest comparison after that team had gotten so close to getting to the World Series in 2003. And that team had that great young starting rotation. So that to me is probably pretty similar to this. The thing for me this season is that I expected the bumps and bruises and a string of injuries. I didn’t expect so many guys who should either be in or entering the prime of their careers taking a significant step backwards. And so I think I find this so disappointing, because I find myself walking back expectations for the next few years. Because I don’t believe you can just dismiss 85 games of subpar performances as one big collective fluke.

But, I suspect those of you who are regular readers of this column don’t come so much for my thoughts and narratives as the math. And so we’ll look at WPA. The good news is that math always tells you that no matter how bad a game is, it only counts as one in the standings. Today is a new day and can be the start of a winning streak at any time. Even if it is looking less likely all of the time that this team will get hot and take control of the division.

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, July 7:

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Jon Jay (.054). Jon singled leading off the game and then was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the third. June 14th to present, Jon is hitting .345/.410/.491 (propped a bit by a BABIP of .415 which is higher than both his season number of .384 and his career number of .343).
  • Hero - Albert Almora Jr. (.010). Albert singled in the third inning just in front of Jay. Going back just a little further with Albert, we see that he is hitting .273/.360/.394 June 4th to present.
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.007). This is largely based upon the first inning two out double for Anthony. He gave back almost all of that positive when he popped up in the third with runners on the corners and one out.


  • Billy Goat - Mike Montgomery (-.328). There was never a question on this one. Mike had one of the worst starts of his career. By game score, he did have one in 2015 for the Mariners against the Red Sox where he allowed nine earned runs in two and a third. For what it’s worth, he bounced back fairly well from that one and had a six inning three run game the next time out.
  • Goat - Kris Bryant (-.087). Kris’ nightmare season with runners in scoring position continues as he grounded into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and no outs in the third. He also grounded into a double play in the first after Jay’s single.
  • Kid - Ian Happ (-.042). His first two times up yesterday, he made the last out of the inning with runners in scoring position. The other two times he was up, he made the first out of the inning.

I’ll point out here that I realized after I’d already quoted partial season stats for Jay and Almora above that Baseball Reference hasn’t yet updated stats from yesterday’s game, so those samples don't include Thursday's game.

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 39
  • Willson Contreras 17
  • Wade Davis 11
  • Jon Jay 11
  • Kyle Schwarber 10
  • Kris Bryant 6
  • Miguel Montero 6
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Mike Montgomery 4
  • Kyle Hendricks 4
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Tommy La Stella 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Brian Duensing 1
  • Ian Happ 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Eddie Butler -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Hector Rondon -1
  • Albert Almora Jr. -1
  • Pedro Strop -2
  • Victor Caratini -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -4
  • Jason Heyward -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Addison Russell -8
  • Jake Arrieta -9
  • Koji Uehara -10
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Ben Zobrist -15
  • John Lackey -16
  • Javier Baez -23

Today the Cubs open a three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates to conclude the pre-All Star break schedule. The Pirates come in having won three in a row. Trevor Williams will throw for the Pirates. The Cubs saw him back on June 16 and scored three runs in five innings against him. Over his last seven starts, he has a fairly decent 3.73 ERA though he is only 1-0 over that stretch, so he is usually not still around when the game is decided. The Cubs will send Eddie Butler to the mound. He was the pitcher in that June 16 game and allowed four runs over five and two thirds, but also didn’t figure into the decision. Eddie seems to bounce back with a good start after each of his bad ones, so maybe he’ll bounce back after a clunker last weekend in Cincinnati.

I’ll be away most of next week during All Star game week, so I’ll most likely be recapping the Pirates series along with the three games in Baltimore to start the second half on July 17. Let’s hope I’ve got four or five wins to talk about by then.

As always, we’ll finish with a poll. Yesterday, Ian Happ got 65 percent of the votes for player of the games numbered 79-84. Today we’ll vote on the goat of yesterday’s game.


Who was the Cubs Goat of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Mike Montgomery
    (54 votes)
  • 24%
    Jack Leathersich
    (21 votes)
  • 9%
    Kris Bryant
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    Ian Happ
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (2 votes)
86 votes total Vote Now