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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 159

Cubs win 2-1 in 11 innings

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals
Jen-Ho Tseng with Superhero performance to pick up first MLB win.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

On Thursday night, fresh off of clinching the division on Wednesday night, Joe gave most of his regulars the night off. In their place, he fielded a lineup almost entirely comprised of players who spent at least part of their season in Iowa. Indeed, this game looked more like it was Kyle Hendricks on a rehab start than it did a major league game. Included in that observation was the total lack of offense registered by the St. Louis Cardinals who hadn’t yet been eliminated from post season contention.

Kyle Hendricks and four relievers held the Cardinals to six hits and four walks in 11 innings. Of course the Cubs managed only seven hits and four walks of their own. For a while, I wondered if at some point the Cubs would use a position player to pitch or some other means of waving a white flag. The Cubs had a plane to catch to come home to its fans for the final weekend of the season and surely didn’t want any part of playing in a marathon game.

As September turns to October and the games don’t have any special significance, these games are likely to be quite a bit more relaxed. However, the fans that do go will surely be anxious to cheer for their heroes who have looked the part of defending champions over the two plus months since the All-Star Break.

Last night’s win gave Joe Maddon three straight 90 win seasons to start his Cubs career. He now has 290 regular season wins as Cubs manager. Only 10 Cubs managers have won more and he’ll almost certainly move into sixth place next year. It’s been an incredible run already and there is much more to come.

Let’s take a look at what WPA has to say about Heroes and Goats from last night’s game. As always the Heroes and Goats 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 28 (Cubs win 2-1 in 11 innings):

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Jen-Ho Tseng (.464). I was one of many who wondered if maybe Jen-Ho would get the start on Sunday in place of Jake Arrieta. Instead, he came in last night in relief to start the ninth inning. He held the Cardinals scoreless for three innings, allowing just one walk. This performance ties for the ninth highest single game WPA for the Cubs this season. Jen-Ho should get a serious look in spring training for a rotation spot.
  • Hero - Kyle Hendricks (.302). In his final tune up before his first post season start, Kyle Hendricks threw five scoreless innings allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out nine.
  • Sidekick - Taylor Davis (.217). Taylor had a long day at the plate before stepping to the plate in the 11th inning. He had struck out three times in four at bats. In the 11th he batted with two outs and Kyle Schwarber on second. Obviously, Kyle is not the fleetest Cubs runner, so he wasn’t going to score necessarily on just any hit. But when Taylor doubled, Schwarber did score and the Cubs had a lead that Tseng would hold onto for the victory.


  • Billy Goat - Justin Grimm (-.113). Justin threw one inning and allowed two hits, a stolen base, threw a wild pitch and allowed the only run the Cardinals scored on the evening.
  • Goat - Leonys Martin (-.104). Leonys Martin has never appeared in the post season. I suspect he may get his chance in the Washington Nationals series. Last night, he was hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid - Victor Caratini (-.098). If memory serves, this is not the first harsh looking Goat podium appearance for Victor. He had two of the Cubs seven hits on the night. Victor lands here because of his ground out with one out and Schwarber on first in the 11th. He moved the runner along, but because that was the second out of the inning it carries a (-.075) value.

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 23
  • Wade Davis 20
  • Kyle Hendricks 20
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Jon Jay 7
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Alex Avila 5
  • Jake Arrieta 4
  • Felix Pena 4
  • Jose Quintana 3
  • Taylor Davis 3
  • Dillon Maples 2.5
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Rene Rivera 1
  • Brian Duensing 1
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Tommy La Stella 1
  • Justin Grimm 0
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Jen-Ho Tseng 0
  • Kyle Schwarber -1
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Mike Freeman -1
  • Leonys Martin -3
  • Pedro Strop -3
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candlario -5
  • Justin Wilson -6
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -8
  • Albert Almora Jr. -9
  • Addison Russell -9
  • Ian Happ -9.5
  • Victor Caratini -10
  • Jon Lester -14
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Jason Heyward -18
  • Ben Zobrist -19
  • Javier Baez -20
  • John Lackey -20

With most of the regulars having the night off, not a lot of significant movement in the standings. Kyle Hendricks did reach the plus 20 club in his final start. Justin Grimm fell to even on the year while Jen-Ho Tseng rose to even. Victor Caratini dropped into the negative 10 club. I suspect he’ll get another couple of chances to get back out of that club.

The Cubs move into the final weekend of the regular season with a home series against the Cincinnati Reds. Without much at stake, I won’t dive too much into the previews. Jose Quintana and Jon Lester are scheduled to make their final starts of the year and Jake Arrieta was originally scheduled to start on Sunday. His status is in question for that game and I suspect the Cubs will hold him back and take their chances with his next start being a playoff game.

I’ll have one final regular season column on Monday to wrap the weekend series. The only real drama left to cover is how the races for the top and bottom spots will finish. Anthony Rizzo looks very likely to wrap up his third Superhero of the Year award in the four seasons this column has run. At the bottom, John Lackey and Javier Baez are presently in the cellar, but Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist are also in the picture and any of the four could be Billy Goat of the Year or not be in any of the bottom three positions (though John Lackey would need all three players to have a negative weekend to not be in one of them).

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday Addison Russell received 54% of the votes for Superhero of the Game, narrowly edging out John Lackey (45%). Today we’ll again be voting for Superhero of the Game.


Who was the Cubs Superhero of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Jen-Ho Tseng
    (62 votes)
  • 38%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (69 votes)
  • 17%
    Taylor Davis
    (31 votes)
  • 2%
    Ian Happ
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Justin Wilson
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments below)
    (12 votes)
181 votes total Vote Now