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2018 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 2

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Really, really long relief leads to one of the highest WPA scores in Cubs history.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Seattle Mariners Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently, the 2018 Cubs won’t go 162-0 and their bullpen will not register a 0.00 ERA. But that bullpen put together an amazing performance, led by today’s Superhero just the same. Kyle Hendricks was none too shabby in his six innings of work either, but then the bullpen followed with 11 innings and just one run allowed. That’s stellar work at any point in the season. Unfortunately, on this night, it just didn’t hold up.

For the Cubs bats, opening night was so promising, with three home runs and eight runs in all. Last night, they managed only one of each. Of course 160 games is a long time to fix it, but there are some Cubs players who have dug quite a statistical hole for themselves to start the season.

In the end though, Eddie Butler takes a loss for the Cubs. However, in doing so, and in throwing seven innings of excellent relief, he may have “saved” future games. The Cubs didn’t have to throw seven or eight relievers last night. Sure, they did end up using a good handful, but it wasn’t nearly as ugly as it could have been because of his effort. A tip of the cap to Butler for his efforts and also to the no name Marlins who stymied the Cubs hitters all night long.

Game 2, March 30 - Cubs lose to Marlins 2-1 in 17 innings

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Eddie Butler (.898). He peaked as high as .970 with two outs in the 17th, but still ends up with a score higher than any produced last season for the Cubs. I’ve seen higher WPA numbers, but this has to rank up there. Butler faced one more batter than the starter Kyle Hendricks did. Of course Butler is a starting pitcher historically, but an interesting fact about this one is that this is the longest appearance of Butler’s career. Never before had he recorded more than 18 outs in a game. He recorded 21 of them last night in pitching in parts of eight different innings. Only two opening day starters faced 27 or more hitters, both of those guys have won Cy Youngs. Butler faced 26. He was the last man to make the roster. Crazy.
  • Hero - Kyle Hendricks (.229). This wasn’t the crispest we’ve ever seen Kyle, but he was effective. He threw six innings allowing four hits, three walks and one run. He struck out five. If he posted that line another 30 times this year, he’d almost certainly win a Cy Young as it would likely result in 25 or more wins with this team around him.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.207). The only other Cub to bat and produce a WPA score above .000 was actually also Eddie Butler (.049). Kris hit a booming home run in the third inning to make it 1-0 Cubs. Unfortunately, the Cubs managed only seven other hits (and eight walks) in 17 innings. Kris also had a double, a single and a walk in the game.


  • Billy Goat - Jason Heyward (-.439). He didn’t even start this game and was only hitless in three at bats. He grounded into a double play with one out and the bases loaded in the 15th inning resulting in (-.351) WPA. That was the second largest WPA event of the game.
  • Goat - Javier Baez (-.398). This one is no cheapie. Javy batted seven times yesterday and was retired all seven of them. I guess it is a silver lining that he only struck out in two of those at bats. His failed sacrifice bunt that resulted in a force out with runners on first and second and no outs carried a (-.117) WPA. I saw it reported elsewhere that the expectation for a typical team having runners on first and second and no outs is 1.4 runs. The Cubs had that situation in both the 15th and the 16th innings and of course managed no runs in either inning.
  • Kid - Brandon Morrow (-.390). I’m going to give Brandon a mulligan. I was watching the Marlins feed of the game. A friend watching the Cubs feed said he only saw Morrow up once, but he was shown warming up on three different occasions on the Marlins broadcast. He didn’t really seem to be going full out in getting loose, but without a doubt his normal routine was thrown off by this crazy game. Alas, the bottom line is his entire Cubs career to this point consists of facing one batter and allowing a walk off single. I suspect he’ll bounce back and provide quite a bit of value, but this was not the start to his time here that he envisioned, I’m sure.

WPA Play of the Game - Eddie Butler quickly dispatched the first two Marlins in the 17th inning. He then allowed back to back singles, the second of which Baez almost came up with. At that point, Joe Maddon went to the pen for his closer Brandon Morrow to get one out. He did not get that out. Morrow allowed a single to Miguel Rojas. It was Miguel’s first hit of the day, though he did draw three walks. This play resulted in a (-.390) WPA.

*Cubs highest WPA event of the day was Carl Edwards Jr. striking out Chad Wallach with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning (.133).

Cumulative Leaders:

  • Superhero - Steve Cishek and Eddie Butler 3
  • Kid - Kyle Hendricks 2

With only two games played, we have of course two tied at 3 and another two tied at 1. Jason Heyward scored two points in the opener, but of course he lost them by reaching the Billy Goat podium in last night’s game. The most interesting thing about the first two games is that in both games, it would have been nearly impossible to predict the combinations that occurred at the top.

Up Next: Yu Darvish becomes the third Cub to make his debut. Cishek ended up a Superhero and Morrow ended up a Goat. Let’s hope it is more the first than the last. After taxing the bullpen last night, Maddon will be looking for Darvish to go deep in this one. He should be quite the contrast for Marlins hitters after seeing Hendricks and Butler most of the night Friday and even Jon Lester on Thursday. It isn’t clear who will start for the Marlins as Odrisamer Despaigne who got the win by pitching the 17th inning was to be their starter today. Rather amazingly, Don Mattingly was reportedly considering having him come back and start later today given that he only threw 11 pitches.



Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    Eddie Butler
    (255 votes)
  • 3%
    Kyle Hendricks
    (9 votes)
  • 3%
    Kris Bryant
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Justin WIlson
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Other (please leave a suggestion in the comments)
    (0 votes)
274 votes total Vote Now