I love when I advance a narrative and then something that doesn’t fit it happens to make me be wrong in a good way. I’ve been harping that the bats are carrying this team and that the Cubs need to be scoring bushels of runs to be winning. So Kyle Hendricks, with an assist from Carl Edwards Jr. and Brandon Morrow, shut down the Brewers. The Cubs move back to two games over .500.
In the offseason, some experts and many fans rushed to dub this one of the best pitching staffs and best rotations in Cubs histories. Even Joe Maddon went as far as to say that he felt this was the best group of starters he’s ever had. So I definitely understand why people let their imaginations go to those places. Hopefully as the pitchers are finally getting into a groove where they are pitching every fifth game and that those games are occurring every fifth or sixth day. Pitchers are creatures of habit, some more than others. So that’s a thing for some of them. Maybe this team will go down as one of the best. Maybe it won’t. I’m a big fan of letting things play out and then trying to place a team or a part of the team in its historical context.
The good news is that the Cubs have moved back to two games over, and they’ve now beaten their division rival Brewers foe four times in five tries. There has been some talk about the mirage that is the Brewers’ early season results. They’ve piled up a lot of wins against teams under .500. I don’t concern myself with that either. Those wins count just the same as all of the others and so a tip of the cap to the Brewers taking care of business in those games. We’ve certainly seen that it isn’t always as easy as just throwing your hats and gloves out there and booking a win. It’s hard to win a division if one or more teams in your own division win the vast majority of the head to head games. For what it’s worth, our old friend Pythagoras or at least the baseball theory that was named for him, projects the Cubs as 14-8 and the Brewers at 14-10. It’s early for that stat, but the Brewers certainly haven’t played a ton better than the Cubs have.
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 22, April 26 - Cubs pitchers dominate in 1-0 victory over Brewers (12-10)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.459). Kyle was simply dominant in seven innings of work. He allowed just four hits, no walks and struck out five. He also picked off a runner and continues to be one of the most consistent pick off artists in baseball.
- Hero - Brandon Morrow (.168). This was not one of the cleanest saves in history. Brandon allowed two hits in his inning of work. But he also got a nifty ground ball double play ball with help from Javier Baez.
- Sidekick - Carl Edwards Jr. (.123). Edwards has been simply lights out so far. Again, early with some stats but Carl has an ERA+ of 538. In 11 games he’ s pitched 11.2 innings, allowing seven hits, four walks and one run. Oh and he’s struck out 21 batters. That’s a 16.2 K/9!!!
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Jason Heyward (-.097). Jason may be leading the league in well struck not home runs. Be they foul balls or warning track fly balls, it seems like Jason just keeps hitting them. Certainly better than grounders to second and when it warms up, more of those balls might start finding the seats.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.075). Spring training is just about over and the season is going to start for Anthony. Defense is in tip top shape. That bat will come soon. Seriously, I love Anthony too much and believe in his bat too much to keep harping on his slow start. This is the seventh consecutive game in which Rizzo has been on one of the podiums.
- Kid - Tommy La Stella (-.071). I can’t decide if Tommy’s bat has been exposed a little when inserted into the lineup over and over again or if it’s just been a couple of really good pitchers in a row. Tommy, Anthony and Jason were all hitless in three at bats.
WPA Play of the Game - Lorenzo Cain lead off the ninth inning with a single to right. Things got quite a bit more tense with Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun due up in a one run game. But Yelich hit a ground ball that initially looked like it might find its way into center field until Javy Baez swooped in to grab it, step on second and get off a throw across his body to first for the double play. (.245)
In the early going, Morrow, Jon Lester and Javy Baez lead this stat with three each. Of course Baez’ were all positive ones, Lester’s were all negative and Morrow has two positive and one negative.
*Brewers Play of the Game - Lorenzo Cain’s single leading off the ninth inning. (.115)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 14
- Hero - Kyle Schwarber 6
- Sidekick - Steve Cishek and Kyle Hendricks 5
Up Next: This afternoon the Cubs and Brewers will play game two of their four-game series and their sixth game of the year against each other. The Cubs will have Yu Darvish on the mound. He faced the Brewers back on April 7 and had by far his best start as a Cub. In that one he threw six innings allowing only two hits, one walk and one run while striking out nine. He also faced the Brewers once last August. He didn’t fare as well in that one with five innings pitched, six hits, three walks, three runs and seven strike outs.
Brent Suter will be the opposing pitcher. Brett also faced the Cubs back on April 5. He got knocked around a bit while taking the loss. He threw five innings allowing eight hits, three walks and five runs (four earned) while striking out five. He faced the Cubs twice last year and was very good in those. He threw 12.1 innings allowing 10 hits, one walk and one run while striking out seven. This could be a second consecutive pitchers duel.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Albert Almora Jr.
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)