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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 113

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Bumgarner holds Cubs in check; Cubs lose for the eighth time in nine California games this year.

Chicago Cubs v Baltimore Orioles
Almora homers for the Cubs only run
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Lucy moved the damn football again. And here we are as Cub fans, collectively sitting on our butts and wondering why we keep getting sucked back in. I try to stay pretty level, not getting too high when things are going good and not getting too low when things are going bad. I try not to let one game swing my impression of things. Most days I succeed at that. Wednesday’s game was one of those that really moved the needle for me.

How did I let that happen? Madison Bumgarner is a very talented pitcher. He came in with an ERA of 2.88 (and left with a 2.71). Kyle Hendricks has gotten some decent results, but he just doesn’t look like he’s in control of anything. This was a game you figured would be an uphill battle. Indeed it was. So everything went according to one of the more plausible scripts. That shouldn’t be upsetting. But somehow it was. Last week, the Cubs lost a game started by Zack Greinke. That game somehow ended up as at least a slight moral victory because they battled back from a 6-1 deficit against one of the better pitchers in the league, had the lead and a normally reliable bullpen lost it. But there didn’t seem to be much fight in this one. Madison will do that to you, I suppose. But he’s pretty far removed from the time he had one of the singularly most spectacular World Series performances I’ve ever watched.

Yeah, so of course you all know what the difference was. The Willson Contreras injury. That guy has been more than the best player on the Cubs. He has been the lifeblood, the heart and soul of this team. The idea of playing the next month without him (totally a guess) is sad. The game is just so much more fun to watch when he is playing. Fortunately, the Cubs front office believes in redundancy. Despite being reasonably happy with Victor Caratini behind the plate as a backup, they acquired Alex Avila. Sure he swings a good bat too and has value that way. But he is here largely for this scenario, in case Willson got hurt. And so here we are. I suspect that Alex and Victor will be just fine behind the plate. But Willson was so much more than just fine. Ugh.

On that note, we’ll get to the heart of this column and look at the Heroes and Goats as determined by WPA. 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, August 9th:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Albert Almora Jr. (.145). It’s been since July 15th since Albert made any Hero podium and June 19th since he was a Superhero. Albert was 2 for 3 yesterday with a home run that accounted for all of the Cubs scoring. Albert has a .342/.429/.544 line against lefties. In some alternate universe where the huge majority of pitchers are left handed, Albert played in the All-Star game and Cub fans are super mad that he can’t win the Rookie of the Year because he was on the big league roster like one day too long or something last year.
  • Hero - Kyle Hendricks (.115). I don’t know what to make of what we are seeing out of Kyle. If I put him as a choice at the end of this column for Goat of the game, will he receive a fair number of votes? Probably. And yet, here he is. If your glass is half full on Kyle, you see a guy working back from an injury and building up. His stuff isn’t pinpoint yet and so he craftily works around most of his trouble. If your glass is half empty, you are looking at a pitcher without elite stuff who for whatever reason has lost several miles an hour off of his pitches and now throws every pitch while walking a tightrope.
  • Sidekick - Mike Montgomery (.102). When Kyle couldn’t finish the fifth, Mike came in and got the last out and then worked another inning. Mike is an interesting pitcher. When he is used as a reliever, he walks a good deal more hitters than when he a starter. Also, his strike outs per nine drops significantly (8.3 as a starter, but 6.8 as a reliever) But, across 24 outings as a reliever, he has a 2..44 ERA (5.13 as a starter), and holds opponents to a .611 OPS (.728).

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Brian Duensing (-.245). I feel like I talked about a guy throwing a no hitter. I started talking up how awesome he has been and now here he was allowing the go ahead run in the seventh inning. He wasn’t hit particularly hard, but three straight singles did lead to a run.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (.-151). I feel confident that Ian Happ is about to bust back out at the plate. But yesterday was not that day. Hitless in four tries including striking out in the first with runners on first and second.
  • Kid - Javier Baez (-.115). Javy matched Ian’s hitless in four tries. But he was one spot in the order, and didn’t have any real significant at bats in the game.

I can’t turn the page fast enough from this game, so we’ll leave it at that and take a look at the season standings. As a reminder, we award three points for Superhero, two for Hero, and one for Sidekick. And we deduct three points for Billy Goat, two for Goat and one for Kid. Here then are the standings.

Cumulative Standings (Italics indicates no longer with the organization):

  • Willson Contreras 32
  • Anthony Rizzo 29
  • Wade Davis 13
  • Kris Bryant 13
  • Jon Jay 8
  • Kyle Hendricks 7
  • Mike Montgomery 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Kyle Schwarber 3
  • Pedro Strop 3
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 2
  • Jose Quintana 1
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Jake Arrieta 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Albert Almora Jr. -1
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -3
  • Ian Happ -4
  • Victor Caratini -4
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -8
  • Jon Lester -8
  • Jason Heyward -10
  • Koji Uehara -11
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Ben Zobrist -16
  • John Lackey -18
  • Javier Baez -22

The Cubs are off today. Tomorrow they return to Arizona for the first time since Kyle Schwarber was injured in the opening week of last season. The Diamondbacks are playing today against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Those two teams have split the first two games of their series. The starters for the series haven’t been formally announced that I’ve seen. It looks like John Lackey will face Taijuan Walker, Jon Lester will face Patrick Corbin and Jake Arrieta will face Zack Godley. As has seemed to be the case most weekends recently, the three games feature three different start times, so make sure to keep an eye on that for your watching/listening/following pleasure. With no game today, my next column will be Monday’s weekend wrap of the upcoming series. Hopefully we’ll be talking about a series win and a .500 road trip.

In yesterday’s poll, five different players received votes but Jose Quintana was the “winner” of Goat of the game. Today we’ll unfortunately be voting on Goat of the game again.

Poll

Who was the Goat of Wednesday’s Cubs loss?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Brian Duensing
    (22 votes)
  • 20%
    Ian Happ
    (11 votes)
  • 10%
    Javier Baez
    (6 votes)
  • 9%
    Willson Contreras
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Kris Bryant
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex Avila
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (5 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now