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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 150

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Cubs win 2-1; reduce magic number to 9

Mike made just one mistake in six dominant innings.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

You knew going into Tuesday night’s game that it would be a tough one. Chris Archer is one of the better pitchers in baseball. Mike Montgomery was on the mound and had a rough start the last time he started a game. Indeed Archer was good, yielding just four hits and a walk in his six innings of work. Fortunately, the Cubs managed two runs out of that. Meanwhile Mike Montgomery was fantastic. He allowed just one hit in his six innings of work and no walks, though he did hit a batter. By game score, this was his best start of the year at 71, nudging out two previous starts where he recorded a 70.

With the win, the Cubs have now won seven games in a row. Obviously, last year will be a hard season to ever match or exceed. That team was a juggernaut and despite some struggles in the playoffs managed to win a World Series that had eluded the franchise for several generations. That said, very much like the 2015 team, this team is rolling at the right time. Of course it is fun to watch a team steamroll the opposition. But it is also fun watching the team slowly gaining momentum over the course of the season and to be moving towards its highest level of performance right now. Of course there are a few players that need to get back on top of their game, most notably Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. But here it is, this team is playing its best baseball of the year, right at the time it is needed most.

Unlike previous Cubs teams, we don’t have to dig into the way back machine or into other team’s experiences to know what lays ahead. This team is playing well, it has the experience and the talent to win a championship. But we have that experience from 2015. Is it entirely possible to be smoking hot and poised to knock the door in the playoffs and then run into a couple of hot bats and a couple of hot arms and get buzzsawed? Absolutely. As always, there are no guarantees. At least no guaranteed outcomes. This team is going to be a formidable opponent in the playoffs. Will the Nationals be? Absolutely. Would the Dodgers be an even bigger challenge? Probably. Would the Diamondbacks be a tough challenge? No doubt. It’s going to be a fight, but it is going to be a fight this team can win. But first, they’ve got nine games they’ve got to knock off of their magic number.

With that, let’s take a look at the game that brought that number down to nine. Let’s see 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 Tuesday, September 19 (Cubs win 2-1):


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Mike Montgomery (.234). Mike was fantastic yesterday. On June 9, Mike made his first start of 2017. From that day forward, Mike has pitched 87⅔ innings with a 4.00 ERA and 4.19 FIP. He strikes out 7.19 batters per nine innings and walks 3.29. Mike will hopefully get a much more serious look for being part of the rotation next year. I think he can certainly handle it. With the hybrid role, Mike has logged 124⅓ innings on the year and so they’ve managed to increase his workload this year and he could probably handle 140-160 innings next year.
  • Hero - Wade Davis (.191). 32 for 32 in save opportunities now on the year. He’s saved the last three games and appeared in the last four. Hopefully the Cubs can have a more convincing lead tonight and someone else can finish the game so that Wade is ready to go for the crucial series this weekend.
  • Sidekick - Javier Baez (.168). After the off day and having most of Sunday off, Javy got to play a full game at a position other than shortstop for the first time in more than six weeks as he started the game at third base. He got back into the groove at the plate and had two hits including an RBI double in the fifth that ultimately ended up being the difference in the game (.130).

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.115). Ben has cooled off a bit again. Last night he was hitless in four at bats and he is 1-for-18 overall in his last four games. Hopefully he can get it back in gear heading into Milwaukee. He was one of the guys who did hit a little in that last series against them in Chicago.
  • Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.078). Anthony had a tough day at the plate, striking out three times in four plate appearances. That marks only the second time this year he’s had a three strike out game. Many of you will remember the other game. It was May 7, an 18 inning game against the Yankees. In that game, he has nine plate appearances.
  • Kid - Ian Happ (-.074). Ian did have a hit, but he also struck out three times in four tries. Ian wouldn’t have ended up here had he not tried to stretch a single into a double in the seventh leading off the inning (-.024). For what it is worth, I did think he was safe, though I didn’t think it was conclusive enough to overturn the original call.

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 43
  • Willson Contreras 35
  • Wade Davis 22
  • Kris Bryant 19
  • Kyle Hendricks 17
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Jon Jay 5
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Alex Avila 5
  • Felix Pena 4
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Brian Duensing 3
  • Rene Rivera 3
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Taylor Davis 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Jose Quintana 0
  • Tommy La Stella 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Kyle Schwarber -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Mike Freeman -1
  • Pedro Strop -2
  • Justin Wilson -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -3
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Albert Almora Jr. -8
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Ian Happ -9.5
  • Jon Lester -11
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -11
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -14
  • Ben Zobrist -20
  • John Lackey -20
  • Jason Heyward -20
  • Javier Baez -21

Anthony Rizzo takes a step back, reducing his lead over Willson Conteras to eight with 12 games to go. Mike Montgomery moves into the positive 10 group, Ben Zobrist drops into the negative 20 group and Javy Baez moves just one point behind three players tied at -20 in trying to evade the bottom spot. It is a wide open race at the bottom and a somewhat close race at the top as we head for the finish.

Tonight, Jon Lester goes for the Cubs. As I talked about on Monday, despite not being terribly sharp since coming off of the disabled list, he has collected wins in all three of his starts since coming off of the disabled list. He’s pitched 17 innings in those games and allowed seven runs. Unfortunately, he’s also allowed 19 hits and nine walks in that time. Hopefully in an American League East park where he’s pitched many times, he’ll feel comfortable and be excellent.

On the mound against him will be Blake Snell. The Cubs saw Blake back on July 5 in a game that I was actually at. Blake was pretty good in that game, not allowing a run in five innings. He only allowed four hits, but he did allow four walks and that was a driving factor in him only last five innings. The Cubs scored seven runs between the sixth and eighth innings of that game to win 7-3. Expect to see a lot of right handed hitters tonight as Blake Snell is a left with extremely pronounced splits. Lefthanded hitters have an OPS of .525 against him and RHP are at .768.

As always, we end with a poll. On Monday, Kris Bryant was chosen as Superhero of the Week for his outstanding week at the plate. Today, we’ll be voting on Superhero of the Game for last night’s game.

Poll

Who was the Superhero of the Game last night?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Mike Montgomery
    (159 votes)
  • 1%
    Wade Davis
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Javier Baez
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (1 vote)
171 votes total Vote Now