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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 138

Cubs drop third straight 4-3 after late Pirates rally.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Some days I more or less run to the computer to write this column. It’s fun to break down and talk about Cubs wins. After a game like Monday’s, I don’t even mind so much. Yes, the game was generally closer than the 12-0 final, but that was just an airball. You try to forget it and look for a better shot the next time. But man, when it looks like the Cubs have it won and then it slips away, it is just no fun.

Obviously, that’s exactly what we had yesterday. The on the field good news, Kyle Hendricks looked very good again. 2016 was a very special year, but Kyle Hendricks has seemingly been a little bit better every time out here in 2017. The off the field good news is that Jake Arrieta’s injury was just about the minimum and he could possibly only miss one start. At a time when the Cubs just ran six starters through the rotation and just ahead of the playoffs, that is about as well timed as can be. Also, Willson Contreras is heading out to help the Cubs Myrtle Beach affiliate win their league championship to start rehabbing his own hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, the Reds lost and the Cardinals won. I start tracking magic numbers when they reach 20. So I expect to start tracking some magic numbers with tomorrow’s column. Those two teams are tied in the loss column now so we’ll be watching both of them. I’d have to think both of them would also have an eye on Colorado who did win yesterday, but has a very small lead over the two Central teams for a wildcard spot (which for all intents and purposes at least seems like the right to lose to the Diamondbacks).

This is another one where my instinct is to turn the page as quickly as we can and just move on. So with that, we’ll turn our attention to WPA and see what it has to say about the Heroes and Goats from last night’s game. 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 5 (Cubs lose 4-3):

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.198). Kyle has made nine starts since returning from the DL. In those starts, he’s thrown 53.1 innings, struck out 45 while walking 14, and allowed 15 runs (14 earned) on 51 hits. That’s good enough for a 2.36 ERA and a 3.69 FIP. He’s helped a bit by a very high strand rate (88.3%), but there’s no question he’s looking just about as good as ever.
  • Hero - Ian Happ (.062). Ian had the two run single that gave the Cubs the 3-2 lead they held until late. That single (.136) came in the third inning with 1 out and runners on second and third.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.044). We often think of how much Kris terrorizes the Cincinnati Reds and indeed, he has a lifetime 1.004 OPS in 48 games against them. But we don’t talk as much about what he’s done to the Pirates. In 51 games, he has a .387/.502/.656 line. He had a double last night, his third in the first two games of this series.


  • Billy Goat - Carl Edwards Jr. (-.505). I’ll pause a second while all of you register your shock that Carl is here. For those of you who don’t entirely understand WPA, each team starts the game with a 50% chance of winning (.500 WPA), one of the team wins (1.000 WPA) so your WPA slowly climbs as you move closer to winning a game. Which is how it is possible to exceed .500. This was the sixth worst WPA of the year for the Cubs. Sadly, it isn’t even the worst for Carl who has three of the bottom 10 performances by the Cubs this year to lead the Cubs in this dubious category (Pedro Strop and Jon Lester each have two).
  • Goat - Jon Jay (-.091). The only lefty Joe Maddon deployed in this game, Jon had one hit in five tries. That was a first inning single (.036) and he scored the first run. His strike out in the ninth was the big culprit of getting him here (-.050).
  • Sidekick - Jason Heyward (-.070). Jason pinch hit and struck out leading off the ninth (-.070).

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 20
  • Wade Davis 17
  • Kyle Hendricks 14
  • Mike Montgomery 11
  • Jake Arrieta 7
  • Jon Jay 6
  • 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
  • Ian Happ -1
  • Justin Wilson -2
  • Jose Quintana -2
  • Pierce Johnson -3
  • Pedro Strop -4
  • Hector Rondon -5
  • Brett Anderson -5
  • Jeimer Candelario -5
  • Victor Caratini -9
  • Albert Almora Jr. -10
  • Carl Edwards Jr. -12
  • Ben Zobrist -14
  • Jon Lester -14
  • Koji Uehara -14
  • Addison Russell -15
  • Javier Baez -15
  • Jason Heyward -16
  • John Lackey -21

Kris Bryant moves back into the plus 20 club. Kyle Hendricks moves into sole possession of 5th place. Ian Happ moves to the door step of break even. Carl Edwards falls into the negative 10 club. Jason Heyward moves into position for a potentially dubious distinction. In the four years that this column has now run (three by Russ and one by me), there has never been a repeat Top Hero or a Top Goat. Jason is within striking distance of being the first repeat Top Goat (Anthony Rizzo can also accomplish the same thing on the Hero side).

Tonight, the Cubs will start Jose Quintana. Jose faced the Pirates just last week in Chicago and threw six innings of three run ball while picking up the win. Overall though, he has a 5.39 ERA in his last seven starts. His opponent will be Gerrit Cole. The Cubs missed him last week in Chicago. He’s registered a 4.08 ERA over his last seven starts including his last one in Pittsburgh against the Reds when he allowed five runs in six innings. In his last three starts against the Cubs (two of which were this year), Gerrit has thrown 21 innings and allowed only 3 runs (2 earned). He’s struck out 20 and walked only one in that time and allowed just 11 hits. This is a tough matchup.

Left handed hitters do have a much higher OPS against Gerrit (.825 v .670), so expect a very left handed lineup tonight including Kyle Schwarber, Alex Avila and Anthony Rizzo who had the night off yesterday. I’d expect to see Tommy La Stella back in there somewhere too. Schwarber has hit Cole well including a home run off of him. Jon Jay has also had some success. Hopefully the Cubs can squeak out a win in this one.

As always, we finish with a poll. Yesterday, Jake Arrieta received 39% of the votes for Goat of the Game Monday. Today, we’ll unfortunately be voting on the Goat of the game again for last night’s game.


Who was the Cubs Goat of last night’s game?

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    Carl Edwards Jr.
    (110 votes)
  • 1%
    Jon Jay
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Jason Heyward
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (please leave your choice in the comments below)
    (4 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now