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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 144

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Cubs get back on track with 8-3 win.

Bryant powers Cubs win.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been one of the confident people around here most of the season. I have to admit, there was just a minute last night where it let down. When the Mets got an unusual double play with the bases loaded and one out to get out of the first inning which was immediately followed by the Cardinals and Brewers simultaneously rallying elsewhere, I wondered if this season was heading to some bizarro world. But then I looked at this Mets lineup. That team is almost literally a Triple-A team. Sure, some of the guys are above replacement level, but not many. I laughed when the Mets scored the first run. How many times does our faith need to be tested?

And then Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer. Boy, did that feel great. We talk all of the time about how statistics have to regress or progress to where they “should” be. Kris Bryant “shouldn’t” be hitting .143 in high leverage at bats or .202 with men on base. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this progressed to something normal all in the month of September and October? If Kris Bryant carried this team from now until the finish? He’s having another fantastic season. It’s a testament to just how great he has been in his career that somehow this season will be a tad disappointing if he doesn’t finish strong. After all, his wRC+ has dipped from 148 last year to just 142 this year and his fWAR has dipped from 8.4 to 5.8 (admittedly he has a few weeks to add to this). Nevermind that he’s increased his walk rate while lowering his strike out rate. It just feels like a disappointing season at the plate.

Wouldn’t it also be great if Justin Wilson turned on a dime and was a key pitcher down the stretch? Sigh. That’s a bridge too far. I’d shut him down at this point. I’m afraid that if he isn’t already coming down with the yips that he will. Turn the page and start fresh in spring training and hopefully he’ll be a key member of next year’s team. Whatever happened, there just aren’t going to be situations to get him out of this in time to make meaningful contributions. I guess they could try him as a true LOOGY, but Joe hasn’t really ever used anyone that way. But he could only do so much damage if you limited to one hitter. But really, I think I’m done with him for this season. The stakes are too high to be trying to get someone who has shown nothing really going.

Alas, we need to move along and get to Heroes and Goats. Let’s see what WPA had to say in that regard. 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, September 12 (Cubs win 8-3):


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Kris Bryant (.277). Kris launched a three-run homer (.295) into a beautiful Wrigley Field night sky in the fourth inning to give the Cubs a three-run cushion. He just missed a second one when he got under a pitch in the eighth just a little bit and flew out deep to center with the bases loaded. He did get an RBI on that one, but it was worth (.000) WPA.
  • Hero - Kyle Schwarber (.167). There was much debate around the internet, both at BCB and on a number of other Cubs related blogs after Schwarber sat for the weekend against the Brewers. He was back in the lineup last night and for one night was the player Cubs fans have been hoping for. Three hits and a walk in four plate appearances including a homer (.081) in the fifth to put the Cubs up 5-2.
  • Sidekick - Jose Quintana (.128). Jose was good, not great. But it was good enough as he threw seven innings allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out seven. Joe Maddon let him pitch past 100 pitches against a feeble Mets lineup. Jose did allow two runs, but was never in too much trouble. He also picked off a Mets runner in the seventh.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Ian Happ (-.195). I always feel a little bad for a guy who hits a home run and ends up down here. Ian hit the ground ball in the first that ended in a double play (-.143) when Willson Contreras ran out of the baseline trying to evade a tag. The home run came too late in a lopsided game to provide any real help.
  • Goat - Javier Baez (-.089). Javy’s offensive contributions also came too late to keep him off of the podium. In his first at bat in the second, he grounded out with a runner on second (-.032). In his second, he struck out with runners on first and third and no outs with the Cubs losing 1-0 (-.080). He doubled and walked after that and scored twice. The walk pushed Javy to more unintentional walks than intentional on the season. Baby steps.
  • Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.046). Not more than a few feet separated Anthony from having an RBI double and back to back homers with Kris Bryant. Alas, both of those balls did end up foul and going hitless in five at bats in an 8-3 game is almost always going to land you on one of the podiums.

Next, we take a look at the cumulative standings through the Sunday game. 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 38
  • Willson Contreras 32
  • Kris Bryant 22
  • Wade Davis 18
  • Kyle Hendricks 14
  • Mike Montgomery 8
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Jon Jay 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Justin Grimm 4
  • Felix Pena 4
  • Brian Duensing 3
  • Rene Rivera 3
  • Kyle Schwarber 3
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 2
  • Jose Quintana 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Tommy La Stella 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Pedro Strop -2
  • Justin Wilson -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Ian Happ -6.5
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Albert Almora Jr. -10
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -11
  • Ben Zobrist -14
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -19
  • John Lackey -19
  • Jason Heyward -21

Anthony Rizzo has slowed down over the last week, bringing Willson Contreras back in the picture for Superhero of the Year. Kris Bryant moves back into the plus 20 club. Javier Baez drops to a tie for second to last. It looks like Superhero of the Year and Billy Goat of the year will both go down to the wire.

Tonight, Jon Lester takes the mound. The last two times and three of the last four times Jon has faced the Mets going back to 2015 have been dominant starts. In the other one, a start July 3 in New York, he got rocked (maybe we should give Jon a break right before the All Star Break next year?). Jon has won both of his starts since coming off of the disabled list, though the first was more due to run support than anything. In the last one, he appeared to get dialed in over his last few innings and look as good as he has in some time. Hopefully he’ll get more support today and stay locked in.

On the mound for the Mets is Matt Harvey. He too has made two starts since coming off of the disabled list. In the first, he allowed seven runs in two innings at Houston. In the second, a home start against the Reds, he allowed two runs in five innings. He may still be on a pitch count and not go deep into this game. He did pitch against the Cubs in his start before going to the disabled list. In that one, he allowed four runs in four innings. He had some very good starts against the Cubs in 2015, but there aren’t a lot of signs of that pitcher. Matt has been hit very hard by left handed hitters this year, so expect a lefty heavy lineup for the Cubs tonight with Alex Avila behind the plate.

As always, we end with a poll. On Monday, we voted on Cubs Player of the Week. In an uneven week, it’s not surprising that three players all received a good number of votes. In one of the closest votes we’ve had in this column, three players were separated by two votes. Last night’s starter Jose Quintana nosed out John Lackey and Rene Rivera (with Ben Zobrist not too far behind either). Today we’ll vote on Hero of the Game.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Hero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Kris Bryant
    (57 votes)
  • 20%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (18 votes)
  • 15%
    Jose Quintana
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Willson Contreras
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Ben Zobrist
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (0 votes)
89 votes total Vote Now