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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 124

Cubs come back from 3-0 and 6-3 deficits to win 13-9.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds
Jason Heyward has three hits in Cubs win.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that wasn’t pretty. With all due respect to our other team in town, the Cubs have been winning ugly lately. Which isn’t quite as fun as winning pretty as they did so often, particularly early last year, but sure beats some of the other alternatives.

While the Cubs have played the Reds a lot lately, I’ve been quick to point out that they are one of the unusual teams who have better performance from their bullpen than their starters. As such, I’ve been recommending that we have the lead before the bullpens come into play. Especially given that the Cubs have now played 10 consecutive games in which the bullpen has allowed at least one run. So of course, John Lackey allowed single runs in the first, second and third innings while Homer Bailey was flashing back to years long since past in which he was an effective starter. Homer held the Cubs to one hit and one walk through three innings.

Homer left the game after three innings with back stiffness and the Cubs were facing six innings against a bullpen that is more or less league average and a three run deficit. The Cubs responded immediately scoring three runs in the fifth. John Lackey gave back three runs in the fifth and once again the Cubs looked at a three-run deficit. The Cubs responded again with 10 unanswered runs to take a 13-6 lead into the final six outs of the game. Felix Pena did keep that streak of the Cubs bullpen allowing runs going, but did record the final six outs to preserve the win at 13-9.

On a day when the Cubs had 13 hits, nine walks, two batters reach via hit by pitch, a sacrifice fly, and one runner reach base on an error, there is a ton to talk about, so let’s get to it. 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 Tuesday, August 23:

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Ben Zobrist (.306). It is ironic that Ben is here after being scratched from the lineup due to travel difficulties. Ben came to the plate for the first time in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs. He responded with a two run double that made the score 8-6 (.305). He batted a second time in the eighth and drove in the final run with a ground out (.001).
  • Hero - Javier Baez (.260). You know I’ve been saying for days that Javy has been playing a ton of baseball in the absence of Addison Russell. Intuitively, you’d expect it to wear him down as playing shortstop is generally exhausting for any player, and that’s only increased with a guy who plays as all out as Javy does. And yet, he’s hitting .297/.333/.622 in the month of August (.357 BABIP). Javy added a Javy run in the sixth when he singled (.041), went to second on a wild pitch (.018) and then advanced to third on a line drive to center and scored (actually worth -.008 to Tommy La Stella because an out was recorded and the out was worth more than the run). He then had a fantastic at bat in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6 (.268).
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.182). Anthony seemed to be on base all night long. You don’t often look to your cleanup hitter to be a table setter, but that was essentially hit role yesterday. Anthony doubled in the second (.064), singled in the fourth (.038), drove in a run and reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth (-.006, again, the out was worth more than the run), advanced on a wild pitch (.013), walked in the seventh (.040), walked in the eighth (.033), and was hit by a pitch in the ninth (.000). Anthony scored three runs along the way. Quite a follow up to being National League player of the week.


  • Billy Goat - John Lackey (-.431). John has been pretty good since the All-star break. He was not yesterday. He allowed six runs on nine hits, including two home runs in just five innings of work.
  • Goat - Kris Bryant (-.093). Before ultimately leaving the game on a hit by pitch in the ninth inning (.000), Kris was one of the few players not directly involved with all of the scoring. He flew out in the third for the final out of the inning with runners on first and second (-.046) and had a sacrifice fly (-.029, yes, this happened on several occasions last night) and then flew out in the seventh (-.035). Kris was the only starting position player without a hit.
  • Kid - Ian Happ (-.050). After being pressed into action when Ben Zobrist was late getting to the park, Ian fins himself on one of the negative podiums. Ian is here by way of ground out in the second with Rizzo on second (-.018), strike out in the fourth with Rizzo on first (-.035), and struck out in the seventh with Rizzo on first (-.044). Amusingly, due to sequencing, flying into a double play in the ninth was a neutral event because the score was so lopsided. Ian did actually have an RBI single in the eighth inning and also walked in the fifth, so it was a very busy day.

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.

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

  • Willson Contreras 32
  • Anthony Rizzo 32
  • Wade Davis 16
  • Kris Bryant 15
  • Jon Jay 9
  • Kyle Hendricks 8
  • Mike Montgomery 6
  • Jake Arrieta 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Alex Avila 4
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Kyle Schwarber 2
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Jose Quintana 1
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Brian Duensing 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Pedro Strop -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Justin Wilson -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -4
  • Ian Happ -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Albert Almora Jr. -6
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -9
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Jason Heyward -11
  • Javier Baez -12
  • Ben Zobrist -12
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • John Lackey -21

We see movement in several places today. Anthony Rizzo has moved back into a first place tie with Willson Contreras for top spot on the season. Javier Baez continues his rise and is now +19 since taking over for the injured Addison Russell. Ben Zobrist has now also moved out of the bottom three. John Lackey becomes the second person to spend time this season in the -20 group and the only current occupant.

Tonight the Cubs are back at it again. Mike Montgomery gets his first start in over a month filling in for the injured Jon Lester. That last start was one of the best starts of the year for Mike, so hopefully he’ll be able to do that again. Mike did start a game in June in Cincinnati and they knocked him around a bit in that one. The Reds counter with Asher Wokciechowski who the Cubs knocked from the starting rotation on August 14 when they scored seven runs on him in less than four innings. Asher has a 7.39 ERA in his last seven starts. I do caution though that there were a couple of effective starts in there against the Cardinals, so he is capable of it, particularly at home where his ERA is 3.41.

As always, we’ll finish with a poll. In Monday’s poll, 57% of you decided that Anthony Rizzo was the Cubs player of the week. Amusingly, it was only 57% in a week where the National League named him their player of the week. Admittedly, a number of people voted other for Javier Baez who has some very big impact on games last week and others voted for Wade Davis who was very effective while the rest of the bullpen around him was struggling. Today, we’ll look at the Hero of last night’s game.


Who was the Hero of last night’s Cubs win?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Ben Zobrist
    (48 votes)
  • 46%
    Javier Baez
    (68 votes)
  • 12%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Carl Edwards Jr.
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Alex Avila
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Hector Rondon
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (3 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now