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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 112

Buster Posey’s first inning home run puts Cubs in a hole that they never recovered from.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I don’t follow the Cubs as closely when they are on the West Coast. This year that has been a good thing. The Cubs have only won one game out of eight played in California this year. From reading Joe Maddon’s post game comments, I suppose I should be making analogies to Lucy moving the ball again or whatever. I saw two whole batters last night as I considered watching the game before bed. I saw the ground ball that Baez was charged with an error on. Probably a fair call, but that certainly wasn’t a gimme. Certainly the whole inning changes if he makes that play. You certainly approach Buster Posey different with a man on third and two outs than with runners on first and third and only one out. Then Buster Posey hit one that I swore he got under off of the bat and that it would be a lazy fly ball that would surely give the Giants a run on a sacrifice fly. But then the ball just kept on carrying. Jon Jay made a game effort to rob him of a three-run homer, but he was not quite in line with it and even if he was, it was probably a foot or two above what he could have reached.

I don’t know. Javy Baez was an inch or two away from making his play. Jon Jay was a foot or so from making his? So a few feet in a different direction and the whole game plays entirely different. So I turned the game off and watched some regular TV with the wife before bed. So like many of you I suspect, I woke up this morning and checked my phone to see if the Cubs had come from behind. They did not. The Brewers lost, so no harm in the standings. I just can’t get bent out of shape about it.

I do know this. With Madison Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants today and three games in Arizona to follow, it is going to be a tall task to get to three wins and even out this 12-game stretch that figured to be a challenging one.

I suspect the Cubs will win a lot of games between August 14 and the end of the season. I suspect they will win the division by enough games that they’ll be able to line up their pitching rotation for a first round matchup properly. I suspect there will still be a ton of questions, largest of which is that the Cubs really struggled with decent teams this year. And yet, I suspect that these aren’t the Cubs of 10, 20 or 30 years ago. I don’t believe they will go quietly into the offseason. Even if the Nationals prevail in a five-game division series, I expect them to be tested by these Cubs.

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 Tuesday, August 9th:

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Ian Happ (.069). Well, this is potentially a good sign. This is already his second multi-hit game in August and he’s also had a game with a hit and a walk. In six games, four starts he is .278/.333/.500. Getting production from at least one of the Cubs switch hitters would be a significant development.
  • Hero - Willson Contreras (.051). The Giants have done a nice job slowing down Contreras. But he did have a one out double in the sixth and scored on Ian Happ’s double. That was the closest the Cubs would get at 4-2.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.014). Kris singled twice and scored once. He isn’t higher on the list because he flew out to end the fifth with a runner on third.


  • Billy Goat - Jose Quintana (-.202). Jose is in a little bit of a slump right now. He had been allowing too many fly balls and now a few of them have gone out in a cluster and it really makes the results look bad. On the other hand, Paul Goldschmidt and Buster Posey are really great at baseball and make a lot of people look bad.
  • Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.081). It’s so easy for me to take Anthony Rizzo for granted. It seems like he’s really been struggling. Of course I’m unfairly biased by this column and he just hasn’t been popping up every day as a Superhero. And then I pull up his numbers and he’s in the midst of a four game hitting streak and he’s already had three multi hit games in the first eight days of August.
  • Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.075). I’m going to tip my cap to Ty Blach. Anthony Rizzo and Albert Almora have his lefties very well this year, but he did a good job against both of them last night. He’s beaten the Cubs now twice this year. This is his seventh consecutive start of at least six innings and fifth straight start of at least seven innings. Guys who average less than five strike outs per nine innings don’t usually have much success, but he now sports a 3.83 FIP for the Giants this year.

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 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
  • Mike Montgomery 5
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Justin Grimm 5
  • Kyle Hendricks 5
  • Tommy La Stella 4
  • Kyle Schwarber 3
  • Brian Duensing 3
  • Pedro Strop 3
  • Felix Pena 3
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 2
  • Jose Quintana 1
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Jake Arrieta 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Ian Happ -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -3
  • Albert Almora Jr. -4
  • Victor Caratini -4
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -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 -21

The rise of Willson Contreras continues. He moves up while Anthony Rizzo slides down. Let’s see if Willson can stay there for more than a day this time. And let’s see if Rizzo can counter punch again. Ian Happ takes a big step towards getting back onto the positive side of things as Jose Quintana falls perilously close to falling into negative territory.

The Cubs will try again this afternoon. They hand the ball to Kyle Hendricks. Kyle completed seven innings the last time out. He also threw seven innings in a start against the Giants at Wrigley Field in May. Madison Bumgarner will start for the Giants. This game pits two pitchers who are working their way back from injuries that have interrupted their seasons. Maddison has thrown seven innings in consecutive starts. Amazingly, he has a 2.88 ERA but a 1-5 record. His last two starts have seen him throw 14 innings and only allow two runs and yet he has a loss and a no decision to show for it. Hopefully he’ll continue to be plagued by a lack of run support.

In yesterday’s poll, six different players received at least one vote and Javier Baez was the choice for Hero of Monday night’s game with 54% of the votes. Today we’ll vote on Goat of Tuesday night’s game.


Who was the Goat of last night’s Cubs loss?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Jose Quintana
    (51 votes)
  • 4%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Albert Almora
    (1 vote)
  • 31%
    Javier Baez
    (27 votes)
  • 1%
    Jon Jay
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Other (Please leave your suggestion in the comments below)
    (1 vote)
85 votes total Vote Now