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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 118

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Pitching duel results in a 2-1 Cubs loss.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
Kyle Hendricks throws six shutout innings in Cubs loss.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The good news from Tuesday night was that the Cubs took another day off of the schedule. The Cubs’ lead in the division did not shrink. If you are an early magic number counter, you got to take one off.

The decent news Tuesday was that Kyle Hendricks was decent. I could have actually put it in the good news section that Carl Edwards Jr. had an outstanding inning, inheriting two runners from Kyle but striking out the side to leave them there.

The bad news was after scoring 15 runs on Monday, the Cubs managed only one run and that wasn’t until the ninth inning. The Cubs’ bats struggled early and they left a lot of runners on late. I’m sure there will be tons of questions about the way Joe Maddon managed the last few innings. I can understand that, one or two of the moves left me scratching my head too.

I’m going to turn the page on this one as quickly as I can. So we’ll get right to the heard of the column and take a look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. 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 15:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Ben Zobrist (.269). Ben had two great at bats last night coming off the bench. He walked leading off the eighth inning. He then singled in the ninth inning, driving in the only run of the game (.171). Ben’s bat would mean so much to the Cubs if at any point he could get it going.
  • Hero - Carl Edwards Jr. (.234). Carl inherited runners on first and second and no outs in a 0-0 game in the seventh inning. He struck out three straight hitters to close out the inning and preserve the tie. Carl remains one of the top contributors to the very good Cubs bullpen.
  • Sidekick - Kyle Hendricks (.208). I think most of us are still waiting to see a really vintage Kyle Hendricks performance. This wasn’t it. But he was good enough to keep the Reds off of the board for six innings. He didn’t have enough left in the tank to get through the seventh, but all in all a decent outing with six innings, six hits, four walks and six strike outs. The command is still a bit off, but hopefully he is getting close.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Victor Caratini (-.202). All right, I’ll ask this question. Why did Victor Caratini bat in the eighth inning, two outs and the bases loaded? Victor struck out facing the Reds closer (-.198). Kyle Schwarber and Alex Avila were both sitting on the bench at the time. I’m fine with a rookie in a key situation when he’s locked in and having great at bats. Victor has yet to settle in at the plate at the MLB level. I had no confidence that he’d come through there.
  • Goat - Alex Avila (-.199). Alex pinch hit with two outs in the ninth inning and runners on first and third. Alex struck out (-.199). Jon Jay’s strikeout in front of Avila was actually worth (-.259) which was the biggest WPA event of the day. Some years, you trade for guys at the trade deadline and they immediately come in and catch fire and energize the team. Jose Quintana actually did that his first couple of starts. Avila and Justin Wilson have not done that. Hopefully, they’ll have some key contributions down the stretch and more importantly in the playoffs.
  • Kid - Pedro Strop (-.198). Some things I’ve known about Pedro since he’s been in the Cubs bullpen: 1) There will always be people who don’t like him because he doesn’t wear his hat straight or because he is very demonstrative on the mound. 2) He’s an extremely effective relief pitcher. 3) I don’t know if it relates back to 1) or what, but people only remember when he is ineffective. Twitter blew up after he allowed a run last night. Yep, he allows a run more or less every fourth or fifth time he pitches. So do most relievers.

Next, we take a look at the cumulative 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 27
  • Kris Bryant 20
  • Wade Davis 13
  • Jon Jay 11
  • Kyle Hendricks 8
  • Mike Montgomery 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Jake Arrieta 3
  • Pedro Strop 2
  • Kyle Schwarber 2
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 1
  • Jose Quintana 1
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Justin Wilson -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -3
  • Albert Almora Jr. -4
  • Ian Happ -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -6
  • Jon Lester -8
  • Victor Caratini -10
  • Koji Uehara -11
  • Jason Heyward -13
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Ben Zobrist -15
  • John Lackey -18
  • Javier Baez -20

Tonight, the Cubs look to get back on track in the third game of this series. John Lackey takes the ball for the Cubs. John is another unloved Cubs player. But this is what you need to know, John has won his last five starts. They aren’t all masterpieces, but he hasn’t lost a game since his disastrous start against the Nationals at the end of June. John has faced the Reds twice this year. He beat them at Wrigley in May. He got shelled by them in Cincinnati in April.

Homer Bailey is on the mound for the Reds. He has an actual 8.31 ERA on the season. He has a 7.05 ERA over his last seven starts which is, somehow, an improvement. The only but here is that he actually threw five innings of two run ball at the Brewers last time out and got a win. Of course he allowed five hits and five walks in those five innings, so still not dominant. The start before that he was hit for 10 runs. He’s not started against the Cubs since 2014. Right handed batters have a 1.126 OPS against Homer. You might want to play Kris Bryant in your daily fantasy games.

As always, we end with a poll. Yesterday, Jon Jay received 69% of the votes as Hero of the game. Today we’ll look at Goat of the game for Tuesday.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Goat of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Victor Caratini
    (45 votes)
  • 13%
    Alex Avila
    (18 votes)
  • 6%
    Pedro Strop
    (9 votes)
  • 14%
    Jon Jay
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    Kris Bryant
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    Javier Baez
    (5 votes)
  • 25%
    Other (please leave your answer in the comments below)
    (35 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now