For the first three weeks of the season, as the bats went, so went the Cubs. On the handful of occasions that the opposing pitcher was effective, it was an easy loss. The pitching wasn’t terrible, but they were terribly inconsistent and they definitely had a handful of terrible games. Overall they were much less than had been anticipated.
The last four days have been a different story. Sure, Jon Lester lost in Cleveland the other night. But that was at least a little fluky. Your starter isn’t often going to go seven innings, allow four hits and still your team loses 4-1. Even in that one, Lester’s seven innings of work started to ease off on some strain on the bullpen with having to throw three and four and sometimes more innings a night.
These last two days, the starting pitching has been fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the Brewers had jumped out to a hot start and with an eight game winning streak were creating a little bit of distance from the Cubs in the standings. To be sure, April standings are worthless. But at the same time, every now and then when one team gets white hot and another team is much more tepid, a division is stolen away. Five wins in the first six games of the season series with the Brewers have kept them largely in check though despite how fantastic their record is in games where they aren’t playing the Cubs.
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 23, April 27 - Cubs squeak out another win over the Brewers 3-2 (13-10)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Yu Darvish (.275). This is a welcome sight. To this point, Yu had made three podium visits, all of them were Billy Goats. Not this time, Yu threw six innings of three hit, two walk baseball. He struck out eight and only allowed one unearned run, that coming in the first inning.
- Hero - Javier Baez (.224). The month of Javy continues. This is the ninth consecutive appearance on the positive side for Javy dating all of the way back to April 5. He hasn’t been on any negative podium since April 1. Yesterday he had an RBI single in the first inning that extended a career best hitting streak to 10 games. Then he accounted for the game winning run when he reached on an error with runners on first and third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
- Sidekick - Brandon Morrow (.168). Brandon had a strong ninth inning striking out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect inning. He’s six for six in save opportunities and the only blemish on his record this year was the inherited runner he allowed to score in the 17-inning second game of the season when he’d warmed up on several occasions before being used.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Steve Cishek (-.183). Steve has been one of the more consistent Cubs relievers. He did not have a good outing yesterday. I was at work listening to the broadcast and Ron Coomer was adamant that in the four-pitch walk issued to Eric Sogard there were three strikes that weren’t called. Steve allowed a single and a second walk around a lazy fly to center before being lifted.
- Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.126). Albert had one hit in four at bats. The one hit was a double leading off the first. He scored on Baez’ single. He too advanced a career best hitting streak to 10 games. He lands here largely in part to striking out with runners on first and third and one out in the seventh inning (-.116)
- Kid - Willson Contreras (-.080). Contreras had a tough day at the plate. He was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game - In the bottom of the seventh inning, Addison Russell got things started for the Cubs with a single. Jason Heyward sacrificed him to second. Victor Caratini followed with a pinch hit single. After Almora’s strike out, Baez grounded one to short. With Baez busting it down the line, Eric Sogard bobbled the ball and that ended any chance of getting out of the inning. (.191)
*Brewers Play of the Game - After the Eric Sogard walk to start the seventh inning against Cishek, Manny Pina stepped to the plate. He lined a single to left advancing Sogard to third with no outs. (.166)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 16
- Hero - Kyle Schwarber 6
- Sidekick - Kyle Hendricks and Brandon Morrow 5
Up Next: Game three of the four-game set between these two teams. The Cubs reached a season high three games over .500 yesterday and have won four of five. The Cubs have beaten the Brewers two straight after Milwaukee had won eight in a row. The Cubs will be seeking a third straight win for the first time this year. This is the fourth time this year they’ve won consecutive games. Hopefully the fourth time will be the charm.
Jose Quintana will be the Cubs starter. He’s 2-1 with a 7.78 ERA so far in the early going. He pitched better than his line indicated last Sunday in Colorado. He lasted 5.1 innings allowing eight hits, one walk and four runs. He struck out seven. But the Rockies numbers were inflated by the difficulties Jason Heyward was having in right field seeing the ball in a brutal sun light. Jose has thrived against the Brewers the last two times he’s faced them, allowing no runs in either start. All together he’s made three starts against the Brewers since becoming a Cub. He’s worked 21 total innings allowing only 10 hits, six walks and two runs while striking out 22.
The Brewers will start Junior Guerra. Junior has made three starts for the Brewers this year and is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA. Those starts were against the Cardinals, Reds and Marlins. He started against the Cubs once last year and only threw three innings allowing one hit, four walks and no runs. Junior has yet to finish the sixth inning in any of his starts, so even if he’s effective, you can expect to see plenty of the Brewers bullpen in this one. Dating back to last year, the Cubs have now won eight of 10 games against the Brewers. Let’s hope that and Quintana’s dominance over that continue.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game
This poll is closed
Carl Edwards Jr.
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)