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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 137

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Ouch. Arrieta leaves early with injury; Cubs get pounded 12-0.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates
Jake Arrieta leaves with injury in Cubs loss.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well, you haven’t had time to miss me since I last wrote. That last column ended on a sour note in a game that saw Javier Baez leave with an injury. Just when the Cubs seemed to be starting to get healthy, a number of injuries pop up. It sounds like Javy avoided the worst possible outcomes in that one and will probably be back in the lineup tonight. On Monday, it was Jake Arrieta leaving the game early. Early reports are that Jake also dodged the worst of that and that the injury may only be a hamstring cramp.

I imagine there would be a wide variety of injuries, but right now today, I think I’d list Jake Arrieta as either third or fourth of players I feel the Cubs can least afford to lose. To me, there is no question that Anthony Rizzo is first. He is the heart and soul of the Cubs for my money’s worth. After that, until Addison Russell can prove himself healthy, Javier Baez has to be next. There is no real option for replacing him at short. When Addison Russell is healthy, the Cubs have impressive middle infield depth, but today that isn’t the case. Kris Bryant probably has to be third. For whatever reason he’s struggled in RBI situations, but he has excelled as a run scorer and his presence in the lineup probably has almost as much impact as Rizzo. After that though, I have to think Jake Arrieta would be next. Jake has the ability to shut down even the best teams when he is on his game. Replacing him with Mike Montgomery weakens the bullpen, replacing him with John Lackey is a massive step backwards.

Let’s hope that the team continues to get more healthy as we get to the end of that season. Obviously, there is a division title to be won and that has to be the top priority. But not far behind that is carefully approaching the remainder of the season to allow for the highest possible level of health for the roster heading into the playoffs.

With that, we’ll turn our attention to Monday’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 4 (Cubs lose 12-0):


Source: FanGraphs

THE THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero - Alex Avila (.064). You know it wasn’t a great day when two walks and no hits is good enough for a Superhero appearance. Alex’s walk in the second when it was only 2-0 Pittsburgh was actually worth (.062) as it put runners on first and second with no outs.
  • Hero - Justin Grimm (.034). For the second consecutive game, Justin Grimm was effective out of the pen. This time, he recorded five outs, including three strike outs, while only allowing one hit and one walk. Justin really helped to keep the Cubs in the game after the Arrieta injury.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.021). The formula for the Cubs offense has generally been Kris Bryant gets on and the guys behind him drive him in. On Monday, Kris did his part with two hits. Unfortunately, there were only five other hits. Kris had doubles in the first and third innings that were worth (.022 and .023) respectively.

THE THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat - Jake Arrieta (-.196). Jake has been very good for a while now. Yesterday though, he did not look so good. For a guy who is very in tune with his body and with his performance, yesterday had to be just about a frustrating a day as he can have. On the mound he was only able to record seven outs while allowing four hits including two home runs and a walk. He did strike out four. And then of course he left with the injury.
  • Goat - Jason Heyward (-.084). Jason has never really sustained any performance with his bat. Once again heading to the playoffs, if everyone is healthy, I wonder if Jason sees diminished time in the post season. The biggest negative for Jason yesterday was flying out in the second inning with runners on first and second and no outs (-.058).
  • Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.078). Anthony makes back to back appearances on the Goat side for the first time since August 11 and 12. Anthony was scorching hot most of the time between then and now, so hopefully he gets it back on track and can help carry this team to the finish line. Anthony struck out after the first Bryant double (-.032) and grounded out after the second Bryant Double (-.033) both times it was for the third out, ending a scoring chance.

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 40
  • Willson Contreras 32
  • Kris Bryant 19
  • Wade Davis 17
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Kyle Hendricks 11
  • Jon Jay 8
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Justin Grimm 6
  • Miguel Montero 5
  • Tommy La Stella 3
  • Felix Pena 2
  • Matt Szczur 2
  • Brian Duensing 2
  • Dillon Maples 2
  • Eddie Butler 1
  • Kyle Schwarber 1
  • Mark Zagunis 0
  • Rene Rivera 0
  • Alex Avila 0
  • Seth Frankoff -1
  • Jack Leathersich -1
  • Justin Wilson -2
  • Jose Quintana -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Ian Happ -3
  • Pedro Strop -4
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -9
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Albert Almora Jr. -10
  • Ben Zobrist -14
  • Jon Lester -14
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Jason Heyward -15
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -15
  • John Lackey -21

Alex Avila gets back to break even on the year. Jason Heyward slips into a group of six players that are divided evenly between -14 and -15 that could determine six of the bottom seven spots on the final standings. It is interesting that of the middle relievers, Justin Grimm is highest on this list. He has had some effectiveness when used in situations that have some impact on the outcome of the game.

Tonight the Cubs will try to reverse their struggles of the last two days. Kyle Hendricks will take the ball for the Cubs. Kyle pitched twice against the Pirates in April. In one of those starts he threw six scoreless innings in Pittsburgh, in the other he was tagged for three runs in five innings. Stretching back to last year, Kyle has been dominant against the Pirates over his last five starts against them with a 4-1 record and a 1.20 ERA. Let’s hope for more of that tonight.

On the other side, Steven Brault starts for the Pirates. He started against the Cubs last August and the Cubs scored three runs against him in four innings. This is the first major league start of the year for Brault. Brault is lefthanded, so expect to see Rene Rivera behind the plate and Albert Almora in center field for this one. After a couple of tough days at the plate, I’d expect Jason Heyward will get a day off. Hopefully Javier Baez is also able to go to complete the Cubs compliment of right handed bats in this one.

As always, we’ll finish with a poll. Ironically, in our last poll Kyle Hendricks received 84% of the votes for Hero of the game. Hopefully he can get back there again in tonight’s game. But first we have to look at the goat of yesterday’s game.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Goat of the game on Monday?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Jake Arrieta
    (19 votes)
  • 12%
    Jason Heyward
    (6 votes)
  • 12%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    Mike Freeman
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Rob Zastryzny
    (1 vote)
  • 21%
    Dillon Maples
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (3 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now