Hopefully, I’m not the only one who spent Easter with family and friends rather than watching the Cubs game. I followed along and was starting to get a little excited about Jose Quintana having not allowed a hit through four. At the same time, I always worry about a pitcher throwing a no hitter in a 0-0 game. It creates an awkward situation, especially in April when guys aren’t in mid season form yet. Alas, the fifth inning happened and doomed Q’s day and also that of the Cubs.
I’ve long been an advocate of a tip of the hat and not over reaction and panic. The Marlins came out motivated and played hard. They executed well. I saw nothing that convinced me that the Marlins won’t still lose 90+ games or that the Cubs won’t still win 90+ games. For those of you who thought that either was likely to go over 100, this series is a reminder of just how hard it is to go over 100 in either direction. Of course both teams still have plenty of times to do so. But for stretches of time, the lesser team might look like the better team. If you take off the Cubbie tinted glasses and don’t get caught up in talent, I think you’d be hard pressed not to say that the Marlins looked like the more polished team this weekend. They executed well, the Cubs were sloppy.
With that, we turn our attention to yesterday’s game as we look at what WPA had to say about Heroes and Goats. 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 4, April 1 - Cubs lose 6-0 to Marlins to split four game set (2-2)
THE THREE HEROES
- Superhero - Kris Bryant (.070). Kris had a very good opening weekend to the season and kept it going by reaching base twice in four plate appearances. He drew a one out walk in the first and had a one out single with a runner on first in the third.
- Hero - Jason Heyward (.035). Heyward shows up here with just one hit, a one out single with a runner on second in the fourth, in his four at bats. The Cubs not being able to get that run home felt crucial at the time.
- Sidekick - Tommy La Stella (.009). Tommy had a pinch single leading off the seventh. The Cubs did manage eight hits and one walk on the day, but had trouble stringing them together.
THE THREE GOATS
- Billy Goat - Jose Quintana (-.188). As noted in the open, Jose started out fantastic, but it all unraveled in the fifth inning. His final line shows him throwing six bullpen saving innings, allowing six hits, four walks and six earned runs. He only struck out two. It hasn’t been a great first time through the rotation aside from Kyle Hendricks.
- Goat - Javier Baez (-.105). I’ll say again that Javy started very slow last year too. He lands in this spot today, not only for being hitless in four at bats, but for his fielder’s choice grounder in the fourth with one out and runners at first and third that ended with Kyle Schwarber thrown out at the plate (-.080).
- Kid - Victor Caratini (-.089). Victor was also hitless in four at bats. His biggest negative was also in that fourth inning when he grounded out following the Schwarber lead off double (-.051).
WPA Play of the Game - Brian Anderson came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning. The Marlins had already scored two runs. If the Cubs could escape this jam, it felt like they still had a good chance of winning. But it was not to be as Brian Anderson lined a double to right. Three runs would score on the play. Anderson was thrown out trying to get to third or the WPA would have been a bit higher (.128). It was telling for this series that the largest WPA event in each game was a negative one for the Cubs.
*Cubs highest positive WPA of the day was Kyle Schwarber’s double leading off the fourth inning (.075).
- Superhero - Kris Bryant 4
- Hero - Steve Cishek, Eddie Butler, Ben Zobrist 3
Up Next: The Cubs travel to Cincinnati for a brief two game set with the Cincinnati Reds. Tyler Chatwood will be making his Cubs debut. His opponent will be Tyler Mahle. Mahle made four starts with the Reds in 2017 posting a 1-2 record and a 2.70 ERA. The Cubs have done quite well the last few years in Cincinnati, they’ll be hoping that continues to be the case as they look to bounce back from a disappointing series in Miami.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Tommy La Stella
Other (leave your suggestion in the comments)