When the Cubs scored two in the top of the first and the Rockies answered with three in the bottom of the first, I’m sure I’m not the only one who sat back and said that this was going to be one of those crazy high-scoring games. It was, but in this instance it was crazy good. There were 21 runs scored in the game on a cold, rainy April night in Colorado. Fortunately, the Cubs scored 16 of them and this one was a laugher long before the late innings.
Many of us looked at this team and thought that pitching would be their calling card. With five very talented pitchers and a deep bullpen, it seemed very likely that this team could be incredibly difficult to score upon. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but so far the Cubs have allowed 4.35 runs per game. Major league average has been 4.42 so they’ve been just about average.
The bats though. The bats have definitely carried this team on the majority of the days in which they’ve won. The bats have averaged 5.82 runs per game. That’s really a phenomenal number when you A) consider the weather they’ve played in and B) consider they’ve also been shut out three times and held to one run twice. In the 14 games they’ve scored more than one run, they’ve scored 6.93 runs per game. It’s April and numbers can look funny early on but this team has a very good chance of going over 800 runs.
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 19, April 20 - Cubs smoke Rockies 16-5 (9-8)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Javier Baez (.257). Javy has appeared in this spot now five times in the last 11 games. No one else has appeared here more than twice in 19 games. Overall, the last eight podium appearances for Baez have all been on the hero side. Yesterday he had hits in his first four at bats including a first inning two run homer. He added four RBI and scored twice. Again early, but Javy is second in all of baseball in RBI.
- Hero - Albert Almora Jr. (.109). Albert lead off and provided just the kind of lead off performance the Cubs have been looking for. He had four hits and four runs. He also added an RBI as part of the Cubs seven run rally in the sixth that put the game away. In the ninth he had a double.
- Sidekick - Jason Heyward (.092). J-Hey had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances including an RBI triple that chased Rockies starter Jon Gray. Jason is up to a line of .246/.333/.404 which is an OPS+ of exactly 100. There are signs of life in Heyward’s bat. It’s too early to tell, but I’m starting to let just a little bit of optimism creep in.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Addison Russell (-.100). Addison actually had two hits in the game and scored a run. Of course he was also picked off once. Most of the damage to his WPA occurred in the fourth inning when he batted following a lead off single by Kyle Schwarber. He reached on a fielder’s choice (-.041) and then was picked off (-.052).
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.092). It was a tough day at the plate for Anthony who just kept hitting ground balls. He had one walk in six plate appearances. He lands here largely because he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the third (-.093) despite scoring the tying run. He had an RBI ground out in the fifth to give the Cubs the lead. He grounded into a fielder’s choice in the sixth and then scored. And he grounded into another double play in the ninth.
- Kid - Justin Wilson (.000). Justin continues to battle his control at times. He allowed a lead off double and then issued two walks. Just what you don’t want (ever do out of the pen) with a huge lead. He bounced back with a double play grounder that scored a run and a strikeout to close it out.
WPA Play of the Game - DJ LeMahieu led off the game with a single for the Rockies. He moved to second on a ground out and scored on an RBI single by Charlie Blackmon to cut the Cubs early lead to 2-1. Then Nolan Arenado stepped to the plate for the first time after returning from suspension and hit a home run to give the Rockies their only lead of the day at 3-2 (.144).
Cubs Play of the Game - Baez got the scoring started in this game with a two-run homer (.126) following Almora’s lead off single.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 14
- Hero - Steve Cishek 5
- Sidekick - Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella, Kyle Schwarber 4
Up Next: The Cubs will look to win their third straight and finally reach two games over .500 for the first time this year. They’ll send Yu Darvish to the mound. Yu has made three starts throwing 15 innings, allowing 16 hits, seven walks and 10 runs. He has struck out 17 but been victimized by three home runs already. He’s made one career start against the Rockies and it was not in Colorado. Last September he threw 4⅓ innings and allowed five hits, two walks, and five runs while striking out six.
Lefty Tyler Anderson will be the Rockies pitcher. Last year the Cubs really feasted on left handed pitching. That hasn’t materialized yet this year, but maybe the Cubs can carry the momentum of the last two days into this one. Tyler has made four starts already this year but has yet to record a decision. He has thrown 19 innings allowing 18 hits, 12 walks and 12 runs (10 earned) while striking out 21. He too has already allowed three home runs. 30 baserunners allowed in 19 innings is a rough number.
Coors isn’t to blame for those numbers as only one of the four starts was at home and that was a fairly good start against the Padres in which he went six innings and allowed seven hits, two walks and two runs while striking out eight. Actually when Tyler isn’t facing the Padres this year, he’s thrown a total of seven innings allowing seven hits, 10 walks, and 10 runs while striking out nine. Strike throwing appears to be a problem, so hopefully the Cubs will be patient. Tyler last started a game against the Cubs in 2016. in that game he threw seven innings allowing eight hits, one walk and five runs while striking out eight. So many of these Cubs have seen Anderson before.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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