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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 146

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Cubs complete sweep of Mets in dominating fashion with 14-6 victory.

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs
Rizzo slides in safely as part of another big day.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, the Mets have left town and we will not see them again this year. I grew up disliking the Mets. I wasn’t born yet when 1969 happened, but heard my parents and Cubs broadcasters talk about it often. 2015 made me dislike them more. I’m reminded again though that I’m not a malicious person. I didn’t take extra satisfaction in watching the Cubs dismantle what is essentially the New York Mets Triple-A team. The Mets have quite a number of injuries and traded away a good handful of other players in addition to that. In fact, Rene Rivera, a defensive catcher, strangely has a .980 OPS in his first 39 plate appearances after having a .667 OPS in 187 plate appearances for the Mets. So even the Cubs roster has pulled from the Mets this year.

The Cubs scored 39 runs in a three -game series. The Mets did manage to put up 14 runs of their own which frankly seems entirely too many given their talent level. But crushing a depleted opponent doesn’t have the same effect for me as if this was a team that still had some of its stars of that 2015 team, most particularly Daniel Murphy watching it happen. But, I do take satisfaction that this Cubs team did exactly what it needed to do. It needed to pile up three wins against this down team. To take three off of the magic number (and with a bonus win from the Reds, four off of the number to eliminate the Cardinals).

It is early to try to puzzle out the combination of wins that will end this division race. The Cubs are going to have to win some games against these two teams. They probably need to take at least three of seven from the Cardinals and at least two of four from the Brewers. But that isn’t certain yet. So right now, the easiest formula is to just keep winning. Especially when there is a clear talent gap. And so, the Cubs held serve. This weekend figures to have a playoff atmosphere at Wrigley Field. Hopefully the Cubs can continue to rise to the occasion.

Before we can turn our attention to the Cardinals, I have to wrap up the Mets series. So let’s take a look at what WPA has to say about 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 Thursday, September 14 (Cubs win 14-6):


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Anthony Rizzo (.202). The big blow for Anthony was a solo home run to cut the deficit to 5-4 leading off the third inning (.111). All together Anthony had three hits, two runs, two RBI and two stolen bases on the evening. Amazingly, Anthony still needs to get hot over the last two weeks of the season or he will have the lowest wRC+ since 2013. Successively, he’s had 155, 145, 144 and this year is sitting at 139. All of those are extremely high numbers. If it is possible, Anthony is slightly under appreciated.
  • Hero - Taylor Davis (.157). Taylor had his issues defensively in his first major league start behind the plate. But he did manage a hit in his one plate appearance and it scored a run when the ball was misplayed.
  • Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber (.115). With a nod to Mike Montgomery who had a single as part of the fourth inning rally that busted this game open, Kyle Schwarber slides into the last spot. Kyle rebounded nicely after a tough night Wednesday with two hits. The one that landed him here was a third inning double with one out and the bases empty (.083). With the strong series, Kyle now has played in 53 games since coming back from Triple-A and has a .259/.349/.560 line in 189 plate appearances. It’s been a rough year for Kyle, but right now the Cubs are getting a ton of production out of he and Albert Almora Jr. who are more or less sharing time in the outfield.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Jen-Ho Tseng (-.381). It was a rough major league debut for Tseng. He three innings allowing five hits, a walk, two home runs and five runs. He did strike out six. He also had an RBI ground out at the plate. The Cubs won the game, so no harm, no foul. I’ll still look forward to his next start for the major league team which I assume will be in 2018.
  • Goat - Ian Happ (-.069). It was a brutal night at the plate for Ian Happ. He struck out all four times he batted on the night. At least his teammates were scoring droves of runs around him. Ian has had an up and down season and he’s in one of his down stretches with just two hits in his last 23 plate appearances (though one was a home run). He’s struck out in 47.8% of those plate appearances and has a wRC+ of 4. Ouch.
  • Kid - Mike Freeman (-.003). Tough break to be here. This was another game where if the game had been rained out in the middle innings after it was official that someone would have been on a goat podium with a WPA around (.050). This is what happens when you crush your opponent. Mike struck out in a pinch hitting appearance and ends up here.

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 43
  • Willson Contreras 35
  • Kris Bryant 22
  • Wade Davis 18
  • Kyle Hendricks 14
  • Mike Montgomery 8
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Jon Jay 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Felix Pena 4
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Brian Duensing 3
  • Rene Rivera 3
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Alex Avila 2
  • Jose Quintana 2
  • Taylor Davis 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Kyle Schwarber 1
  • Tommy La Stella 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Mike Freeman -1
  • Pedro Strop -2
  • Justin Wilson -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Jen-Ho Tseng -3
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Ian Happ -8.5
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Albert Almora Jr. -10
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -11
  • Ben Zobrist -13
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -19
  • John Lackey -19
  • Jason Heyward -23

Anthony Rizzo takes another step towards his third Superhero of the Year award in four seasons since this column started. Taylor Davis, Mike Freeman and Jen-Ho Tseng all make their first appearances in this column and Ian Happ slides down further.

This afternoon, the Cubs open a huge three game set with the St. Louis Cardinals. If the Cardinals were to sweep this series, they would be tied for first. If the Cubs were to sweep, the Cardinals would be six games out with only 14 games left and would be all but eliminated. So the stakes are extremely high. Most of the games from now until the end of the year are likely to feel a little bigger than they ordinarily would.

The Cubs send John Lackey to the mound against Carlos Martinez to open the series. John is 1-0 against the Cardinals this year and has allowed six runs across 13 innings. Carlos is also 1-0 against the Cubs in three starts. He has allowed six runs across 20 innings. The Cubs are going to need their bats to keep rolling against Martinez.

Saturday, Kyle Hendricks opposes Michael Wacha. Kyle has a 2.51 ERA over his last seven starts, covering 43 innings. Wacha has faced the Cubs twice this year and has allowed 11 runs in just 10.1 innings. He did throw eight scoreless against the Pirates in his last outing and has won his last three starts. I think the Cubs have an edge in this matchup.

Sunday it will be Jose Quintana against Lance Lynn. Jose beat the Cardinals back on July 23 allowing three runs in six innings. He has allowed only two runs over his last two starts covering 13 innings. Lance Lynn has faced the Cubs twice this year. Both times he allowed exactly two runs in 5.1 innings. He’s throwing well though with a 2.66 ERA over his last 7 starts, covering 44 innings. Oddly, he only has a 1-1 record during that stretch, suggesting that the Cardinals haven’t been scoring behind him.

I’ll be back on Monday to break down this series. Hopefully the bats keep rolling and the Cubs can do some damage to the Cardinals early and often. For now, we wrap up with our usual poll. In yesterday’s poll, Albert Almora Jr. nudged out Willson Contreras by a mere two votes to be named Hero of the Game. Yesterday was another win and so we’ll vote on Hero of the Game again.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Hero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (42 votes)
  • 18%
    Mike Montgomery
    (12 votes)
  • 1%
    Taylor Davis
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Jon Jay
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Kris Bryant
    (3 votes)
  • 4%
    Jason Heyward
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (1 vote)
65 votes total Vote Now