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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 133

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Cubs continue to roll in 6-2 win over Braves.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs
Kyle Hendricks has another strong start in Cubs win.
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always fun when I have a busy day away from Bleed Cubbie Blue on a day when there are half a dozen stories going on. The Cubs won a game 6-2 yesterday which is probably the most important piece of news. But there was at various points yesterday, an ongoing discussion about the Cubs moving the time of a game and upsetting the Brewers for the second time this year in the process. There was news about people coming to the Cubs starting today for September call ups. Those names include Dillon Maples, who I’m sure I’m not the only one interested in getting a look at, and Mike Freeman, because Addison Russell had a setback in his rehab from plantar fasciitis and won’t be available for at least three more weeks. Then the Cubs traded for Leonys Martin to bolster the outfield defense and provide some speed off of the bench.

That’s a wild day. Of course the biggest news across baseball is that Justin Verlander was finally traded in a deal that almost fell apart but ultimately was completed. Justin Upton was traded to the Angels as was Brandon Phillips as the Angels try to make a late playoff push. The Tigers decided to sell off. The Astros finally make a big move to try to secure their first trip to the World Series as an American League team. I can’t ever remember the waiver deadline being so interesting.

But you don’t come here to talk about waiver deals and roster decisions. We are here to discuss last night’s Cubs game and particularly what WPA has to say about Heroes and Goats. So let’s get right 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 Thursday, August 30:


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.226). Kyle came one out short of recording seven innings with no unearned runs. Alas, Lane Adams hit a home run with two outs in the seventh to end Kyle’s day. That is now eight starts for Kyle since returning from injury. He has pitched 46.2 innings, struck out 43, walked 14, and has an ERA of 2.31.
  • Hero - Kris Bryant (.151). Kris Bryant is having a strange season. He is ninth in the national league with an OPS of .948 among all qualified hitters. The only hitter ahead of Kris on that list with less RBI is Justin Turner who has over 100 less plate appearances and one less RBI. Bryce Harper has over 80 less plate appearances and 28 more RBI. But, Thursday night he did pick up two of them with a towering home run, his 25th of the season.
  • Sidekick - Rene Rivera (.070). I love WPA. Rene had three hits Wednesday and was actually a goat in the game. Last night Rene had a hit and two walks and he gets his first visit on the Hero side. Rene’s third inning walk with the bases loaded and two outs was worth (.071). Small sample sizes are fun. Rene who is notably a weak hitter has a .333/.444/400 line in his first six games as a Cub. I assure you someone, somewhere in Cub nation is thinking this Rivera kid has a chance to be a star.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.038). Ben has been hitting the ball with much more authority lately. August 15 to present, he has a line of .319/.396/.574. Last night, he had an RBI single in the eighth to cap the scoring (.004). The thing is, when the Cubs grab an early lead and for the most part just build throughout, there are going to be guys on the Goat side who didn’t really do anything bad.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (-.007). Ian had a hit too, but his biggest positive WPA event was reaching on an error to load the bases in the third (.019). His biggest negative was striking out with runners on first and second to end the first inning (-.030).
  • Kid - Tommy La Stella (-.006). Tommy La Stella is a really good friend of Anthony Rizzo’s. Anthony Rizzo is trying to win the cumulative Heroes and Goats totals. When Tommy La Stella grounded out while pinch hitting in the seventh with a runner on first, it was worth (-.006). If Tommy had gotten a hit or walk in that bat, Anthony Rizzo would be on the podium down here for his hitless night.

The Cubs have been on such a roll that many of the goats lately just aren’t really all that goat like. But it is also important to remember there have been some awful losses this year where the heroes weren’t all that hero like. Just enjoy the winning. It’s fun to be fans of one of the best organizations in baseball.

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 21
  • Wade Davis 16
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Kyle Hendricks 11
  • Jake Arrieta 10
  • Jon Jay 8
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Tommy La Stella 3
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Felix Pena 3
  • 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 -3
  • Pedro Strop -4
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Ian Happ -6
  • Albert Almora Jr. -7
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -9
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Ben Zobrist -11
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Jason Heyward -12
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -15
  • John Lackey -24

Kyle Hendricks joins the plus 10 club. I believe seven members is a new high for this season. Mirroring it on the other end, Ben Zobrist slides back into the negative 10 club returning that group to seven members. Kris Bryant climbs into the plus 20 club.

This series continues with three straight 1:20 games. The Cubs will be facing three straight right handed pitchers, so expect to see a whole lot of left handed hitters over the weekend (though Lucas Sims on Saturday has had some fairly pronounced reverse splits this year and R.A. Dickey’s splits are also reverse this year). Rosters will expand, so look for some extra faces (and a lot more pitching changes). Another welcome sight this weekend will be Jon Lester who will return from his injury to start on Saturday. Mike Montgomery gets the start on Sunday. But John Lackey will be first up today as he tries to bounce back from his first post All-Star break loss the last time out. I expect a high scoring game this afternoon as the Cubs have been on fire and the Braves starter has been struggling.

Hopefully, the Cubs will pick up two or three more wins over the weekend. Monday is a holiday and I won’t be back until Tuesday. I’ll have split columns Tuesday, one for the three Braves games this weekend and one later in the day for the first of four Pirates games that is being played on Monday afternoon. Everyone enjoy your holiday weekend and come back rested and refreshed as we count down to back to back division titles.

Before we go though, we’ll do our usual poll. Yesterday 62% of you voted Ian Happ as Hero of the game for Wednesday. Today we’ll vote on Hero of the game for last night’s game.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Hero of the game?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (67 votes)
  • 3%
    Kris Bryant
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Rene Rivera
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Jon Jay (4 hits!)
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    Javier Baez
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now