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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 132

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Cubs bats continue torrid August with a 17-3 win over the Pirates!

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
Ian Happ has a big day at the plate.
Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

Having a column on the internet about sports and commenting on a site regularly is fun. As someone in that position, I say a lot of things. I say them boldly and confidently most of the time. Of course I see myself as fairly knowledgeable about all things Cub. Sometimes I look pretty smart when I do. For instance, I’ll take a victory lap for suggesting that with Jon Lester ready to come back and the Cubs in the middle of a long string of games that I’d slide Lester into the start on Saturday but then still have Mike Montgomery start again Sunday. This keeps in mind that Mike threw very well in a start in July against the Braves in Atlanta. So of course it makes sense coming off a great start against the Pirates to give him at least one more start and then see where things stand.

But you can’t take the bows unless you can also take the chuckles when you say something that looks stupid on the same day you said it. Regardless of any potential merits to my comments and posts yesterday, I said all three of the following things. Javy looks like he might finally be getting tired after 25 consecutive complete game starts in August in a pennant race; Ian Happ doesn’t really provide protection for Anthony Rizzo; and based on the Ivan Nova/Jose Quintana pitching matchup I’m looking at a 3-2 or 4-3 final. Javy has two hits, two RBI, and three runs scored and of course steals home (after stealing second earlier in that sequence), Ian Happ has three hits including a home run, drives in four and scores two, and the Cubs score 17 runs.

I always say if you post enough comments some of them are going to look really stupid. Baseball changes direction so often and so consistently that it is going to happen. How fun that I was so horribly wrong three times in one day and all of those things I was wrong about were to the Cubs benefit. Alas, I keep telling my wife that we’re never going to have a lot of money. So I know that I can’t just set out to intentionally use these powers to my benefit. But for any of you that would like me to at least try, I’ll suggest that I think Kyle Hendricks is going to get rocked tonight by the Braves and Kris Bryant will never hit another home run this year.

All kidding aside, this was a fun game so let’s take a look at last night’s 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 30:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Ian Happ (.302). I’d love to say that Ian was a one man wrecking crew last night. He was certainly a man and a wrecking crew, but he had tons of help in this one. Ian made me look silly last night, the first time up in the first inning, he batted with two outs and runners on first and second and delivered an RBI single (.114). The second time up, he batted in the third inning with Rizzo on second and one out and he hit a home run (.144). The third time up, he came up with runners on first and second and no outs and delievered a double driving in another run (.045).
  • Hero - Javier Baez (.145). Don’t get me wrong, it does make me sad that Addison Russell had a setback in his rehab. But of course, the Cubs are totally in good shape with Javier Baez playing every day at shortstop. Javy reached on an error leading off the second (.041), stole second base and advanced to third on an overthrow (.061) and then one out later, stole home (.037). For good measure, Javy added an RBI double in the fifth (.012) and then singled in the eighth (.000) before getting an inning off defensively in the ninth.
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.106). Hey, I didn’t say anything bad about him yesterday. I’m not even looking up stats for him anymore. Anthony remains crazy hot. Kris Bryant went bonkers right after Willson Contreras got hurt. He settled back down to merely good performance most days and immediately Anthony got blazing hot. Right about now we are two and a half weeks into that and he hasn’t slowed down at all. Amusingly, Anthony’s night started out with a fly out in the first with runners on first and second (-.047). He then doubled in the third (.132) driving in the go ahead run at 3-2. He was hit by a pitch in the fifth (.020), and then homered in the sixth (.001). Anthony also got a little bit of time off defensively in this one.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Kyle Schwarber (-.072). I’ve seen some tough Goat podium visits. This is one of the worst. Kyle Schwarber had a two-homer, four-RBI night and ends up here. His season line is going to look bad because of how bad he was early in the year, but he is hitting .243/.338/.550 (with only a .301 BABIP) since he came back from the minors.
  • Goat - Jason Heyward (-.056). Jason managed one hit, an RBI single and a run. I did tell you the last guy had two home runs right? I have mentioned WPA is sometimes a little weird, right?
  • Kid - Rene Rivera (-.023). So Rene is still looking for his first Hero podium appearance as a Cub. Well, he’s got to be wondering what he’d ever do to get there. Without doing a lot of research, I’m guessing a guy with a lifetime .216 batting average doesn’t have very many three-hit games. He gets one and finds himself on one of the goat podiums. 10 Cubs had hits in this game, 10 Cubs had runs in this game and eight Cubs drove in runs. They are all heroes in my book to be sure.

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)

  • Anthony Rizzo 41
  • Willson Contreras 32
  • Kris Bryant 19
  • Wade Davis 16
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Jake Arrieta 10
  • Jon Jay 8
  • Kyle Hendricks 8
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Brian Duensing 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Kyle Schwarber -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Justin Wilson -1
  • Jose Quintana -2
  • Alex Avila -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Rene Rivera -4
  • Pedro Strop -4
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Albert Almora Jr. -7
  • Ben Zobrist -8
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -9
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Jason Heyward -12
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -15
  • John Lackey -24

Anthony Rizzo’s fifth Hero podium in the last six games puts him nine points ahead of Willson Contreras who doesn’t figure to return for at least another two weeks. Javier Baez moves into a tie with Addison Russell. Kyle Schwarber with a tough luck goat slides into negative territory.

Tonight, the Cubs open a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs will have Kyle Hendricks on the mound. Kyle has been slowly building up since coming back from injury and threw seven very solid innings in Philadelphia last weekend and has a 2.48 ERA over his last seven starts. He hasn’t started a game against the Braves since 2015.

For the Braves, it will be Sean Newcomb. He started against the Cubs in Atlanta in July and allowed five runs in five and a third innings while taking the loss. He has thrown well since that start with a 3.86 ERA in the seven starts since that game. Sean is left handed and has normal splits for a lefty with an opponent OPS of .817 for right handed hitters and .747 for left handed. Coming off of a three hit night, I’d expect we may see Rene Rivera again and we’ll definitely see Albert Almora. If the Cubs play Rivera and the two switch hitters, they can show Newcomb six right handed hitters plus Kyle Hendricks.

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday, 84% of you selected Jake Arrieta as Hero of the game for Tuesday. Today we’ll be voting on Hero of the game again.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Hero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Ian Happ
    (96 votes)
  • 23%
    Javier Baez
    (36 votes)
  • 2%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Kris Bryant
    (2 votes)
  • 7%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (4 votes)
154 votes total Vote Now