For the second weekend in a row, the Cubs were involved in a wild game. The game Sunday started out with Kris Bryant getting hit in the head with a pitch. Both of the Cubs hitting coaches were ejected in the aftermath of that. There was an on field squabble between Javier Baez and DJ LeMahieu over sign stealing. The Cubs jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Jason Heyward lost a couple of battles with the sun. And of course the game ended on an overturned replay call. Had the Cubs not gotten that call, it would have been 9-8 and the Rockies would have runners on second and third. But they did and so the Cubs escaped Colorado with two out of three. That was some of the craziest meatloaf the Cubs have served up in recent years. But that meatloaf always tastes so good.
19 games doesn’t necessarily tell us what this team is or will be. This team appears to be one that will be driven by a dynamic, high octane offense. After a generally high scoring weekend, the Cubs are now second in the major leagues in runs scored per game at 5.79. And this team has played in consistently terrible weather. This team will still get contribution from Anthony Rizzo which has been almost entirely absent so far this year, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively.
Many thought this team would have one of the best pitching staffs in Cubs history. That could develop, but that just isn’t the case yet. Their 4.53 runs allowed per game is below average. When I change the focus and look at FIP, which tries to iron out some fielding issues, the Cubs are still below average at 4.27 (league average is 4.04). I suspect things will get better, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on. The culprit has been the rotation. In 97⅓ innings, they’ve sported a 5.27 ERA arising from a 1.562 WHIP. The relievers are still doing very well with a 2.75 ERA in 78⅔ innings.
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 22 - Cubs jump on Rockies early, hold on to win 9-7 (10-9)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Brandon Morrow (.131). Brandon had some trouble on Sunday. He allowed two hits and a walk. He did strike out one. In the end he remained perfect in save opportunities in the early going.
- Hero - Tommy La Stella (.094). Tommy started this game at second and had two hits in three at bats. He had an RBI single in the first (.088) and another single in the third (.014). He scored both times.
- Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber (.083). I’m loving Kyle in the middle of the lineup as a productive hitter to be sure. Ironically, he’s starting to look like the on base machine the Cubs were envisioning when they made him their leadoff hitter last year. He had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances yesterday. His on base percentage is up to .414 which is second only to Kris Bryant’s (.467) on the team.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Addison Russell (-.061). Addison came into this game as a pinch hitter and stayed in as a shortstop. He got two at bats and was retired both times. If you are on Twitter and don’t follow Michael Cerami, you might want to. He had a series of informative tweets about Addison yesterday.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.039). Anthony did have a single that contributed to the Cubs three run first inning rally. He had just the one hit in four at bats on the day. He did add a hit by pitch, so that part of his game is already in mid-season form.
- Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.022). It’s criminal for Albert to be here. He had just one hit in six at bats and that was enough to land him here. If I could exempt him from this because of his fantastic day in the field, I’d certainly do so.
WPA Play of the Game - Brandon Morrow retired red-hot Charlie Blackmon to start the ninth and there was hope that maybe the inning would be uneventful. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story followed with singles and then Morrow struck out Ryan McMahon. That was actually the second biggest WPA event of the game (.128). David Dahl then drew a walk and with Ian Desmond at the plate, Morrow jumped out to an 0-2 count. Willson Contreras made the same call I would have, he called for a pitch in the dirt. Desmond is off to a rough start in 2018 and I thought he might chase. He didn’t and the ball bounced away. But Contreras made a perfect throw to Morrow. The home plate ump called Arenado safe, but I thought from the replays it was pretty clearly an out and the call was overturned and the Cubs won on a runner trying to score on a wild pitch. (.204)
Rockies Play of the Game - With two outs and runners on second in third in the seventh inning and the Cubs leading 9-5, David Dahl lined a ball off of Carl Edwards Jr. Carl got back to the ball but threw it away trying to make a sensational play at first. Two runs scored (.121)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 14
- Hero - Tommy La Stella 6
- Sidekick - Steve Cishek, Kyle Schwarber 5
Up Next: The Cubs are off today. An actual scheduled off day! Tomorrow morning, I’ll have a look at the full standings for Heroes and Goats year to date. I’ll also look ahead to Tuesday night’s game in Cleveland. I’ll also dig into the statistics bag and give you some additional info on the first 19 games of the season.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Tommy La Stella
Carl Edwards Jr.
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)