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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 156

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Cubs stay hot; Magic number reaches 1

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs played the first of a week of tune up games heading into the playoffs after doing almost all of the work over the weekend to clinch the division. The celebration remains, but even before last night’s game, there was virtually no chance that the Cubs would fail to win the division. I suspect there is a strong chance of celebration tonight and as I’ve been saying for a while, the Cubs will not leave St. Louis without a division crown won.

Now, the attention turns to making roster decisions and getting people healthy. Getting work for those like Hector Rondon and Justin Wilson who may need some innings to try to shore up their playoff roster spots while others like Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta could probably use a few innings to get back into the groove ahead of the playoffs. Also, Joe will probably want to get a little extra rest for some of the regulars. Certainly, you never want to pull all of the way back. You need guys to stay geared up and ready to perform at their best in a series that will start next Friday. But these last games are just a formality at this point.

It’s a fool’s exercise, because we know the answer is both categories can be successful, but it’ll be interesting to see matchups between first and second half powerhouses. The Cubs and Indians coming off of their marches to the World Series struggled to find their stride in the first half while the Dodgers, Astros and Nationals streaked out to torrid starts. But in the second half, the Indians and Cubs have been the best teams in baseball. Overall records say that the Dodgers and Nationals are the best teams in the National League, but at least in theory I’d rather the team that finished strong than the one that started strong and then faded a little. In theory. But in practice, we know that there isn’t a clear formula. Sometimes a team is hot coming into the playoffs and then rolls and sometimes that team runs into a brick wall and crashes and burns in the playoffs. Conversely, sometimes a team struggles down the stretch but pulls it together come playoff time and sometimes those struggles keep right on going and the team fades away quietly. All you can do is get to the dance and get there healthy and ready to compete. This team appears to have done that.

Let’s take a look at last night’s game and 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 Monday, September 25 (Cubs win 10-2):


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Addison Russell (.224). Addison had just one hit in the game, but it was a three run double and later scored in the first inning with two outs (.238). He actually reached on a fielder’s choice in the eighth and scored a second run. It’s a small sample size of only 27 plate appearances, but Addison looks locked in despite not being able to get in a rehab stint following his six weeks out of action. He has a .261/.370/.435 line that is a 115 wRC+ (meaning he’s been 15% better than the average hitter).
  • Hero - Javier Baez (.081). Javier had two hits, but the one that got him here was his three run homer in the third that made it 8-1 (.097). Without cherry picking too much, I knew that Javy started this season slow, so I looked at his stats from May 1 to present. In that time period, he’s had 434 plate appearances with a .284/.326/.502 line that is a 108 wRC+. With plus defense, Javy has had a fantastic season.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.077). Kris had three more hits last night including a home run. He also had a walk and he scored two runs on the night. Kris is closing in on his second 7+ fWAR season in a row, has a wRC+ of 148 that matches last season’s number despite 10 less home runs and has a chance at a .300 season (he’s at .297). He’s also already scored 110 runs. He needs one more home run for back to back 30 homer seasons.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.032). When you pound on your opponent early and cruise to victory, it doesn’t take a lot to end up in this spot. Willson actually had one hit in four tries yesterday, but his fly out in the first with runners on first and second and one out (-.044) was plenty to land him here.
  • Goat - Jon Jay (-.030). Jon not only had a hit, but had an RBI as well. But he struck out swinging in the first (-.022) and ends up here.
  • Kid - Brian Duensing (-.003). When you face two batters and one of them hits a home run, this can happen to you. When it happens when your team is up 8-1 and has basically done no wrong, this will almost certainly happen to you.

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 29
  • Kris Bryant 26
  • Wade Davis 20
  • Kyle Hendricks 18
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Jon Jay 7
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Alex Avila 5
  • Felix Pena 4
  • Justin Grimm 3
  • Rene Rivera 3
  • Jose Quintana 3
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Brian Duensing 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Taylor Davis 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Tommy La Stella 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Kyle Schwarber -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Mike Freeman -1
  • Leonys Martin -1
  • Pedro Strop -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Jen Ho Tseng -3
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Justin Wilson -6
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -8
  • Albert Almora Jr. -9
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Ian Happ -9.5
  • Addison Russell -12
  • Jon Lester -14
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Javier Baez -19
  • Jason Heyward -20
  • Ben Zobrist -20
  • John Lackey -22

Willson Contreras appears on the Goat side for the fourth time in five games and not only does it look like he can catch Anthony Rizzo for the top spot, Kris Bryant with four appearances on the Hero side in the last five games is knocking on the door for second. Javier Baez moves out of the negative 20 club and hopes to finish outside of the bottom three with his torrid second half. The bottom spots likely won’t be decided until the final weekend of the year with John Lackey still “leading” the way at the bottom.

Tonight, the Cubs play game two of four against the Cardinals. With a win the Cubs clinch the National League Central. The Cubs also clinch of the Milwaukee Brewers lose at home to the Cincinnati Reds. Tonight’s game has a dynamite pitching matchup with Jake Arrieta on the mound for the Cubs against Carlos Martinez. Jake has faced the Cardinals three times this year lasting six innings each time allowing a total of 7 earned runs. In his last seven starts this year wrapped around a couple of weeks on the disabled list, Jake has a 1.91 ERA in 37.2 innings and going back further, in his last 19 starts, he’s thrown 108.2 innings with a 2.65 ERA.

Carlos got knocked around the last time the Cubs faced him, allowing seven runs in just 5.1 innings. His last start was a bit better when he went 6.1 against the Reds allowing four runs. Carlos has faced the Cubs four times this year. In those starts he’s pitched a total of 25.1 innings and allowed 13 runs.

As always, we finish with a poll. Today we’ll be looking at the Superhero of last night’s game. Yesterday, you selected Jose Quintana as Superhero of the Week for last week with 37% of the vote to 33% for Kris Bryant. Jon Jay also received 23% of the vote.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Superhero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    Addison Russell
    (130 votes)
  • 6%
    Javier Baez
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    Kris Bryant
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Jason Heyward
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    Jon Lester
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    Ben Zobrist
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (please leave your answer in the comments below)
    (6 votes)
191 votes total Vote Now