The last two series of baseball the Cubs have played have been the best kind of boring for me. Ho hum, another starter on the Superhero platform. That’s four games in a row and five of six. Every time you have a low scoring game, the starting pitcher has a fantastic chance of being the Superhero. These last four games really went a long way to flipping the script. The Cubs started the season by going 1-8 in games where they scored three runs or less. Now they’ve just won four straight games that way to move to 5-8 in such games. And they are 10-2 when they score at least four runs. Despite the sluggish weekend, this team is still averaging 5.2 runs per game, so the future is looking super bright.
The Cubs have now won seven of eight games against the Brewers this year. The Brewers dropped from first place to being percentage points in fourth place in just four days. Of course this is exactly why April standings are relatively meaningless. No matter how good or how bad things are, a week or two of very strong (or very bad) baseball can wipe that out in a hurry. I’m sure that’s very small consolation to Nationals and Dodgers fans right now. Both teams are likely to still make the playoffs, but you don’t want to find yourself six and seven games respectively behind teams that were expected to be playoff contenders for sure. I for one won’t stick a fork in either one of them, but I’m sure their respective fan bases are more than a little anxious right now.
The Cubs are now on pace for 97.2 wins for the season. Again with April stats and a large grain of salt, but I’ll spike the ball early and do a premature end zone celebration since I predicted this team would win 97 games. When small sample sizes verify your prediction, they should always be taken more seriously. Ok, probably not. But I’m still super optimistic given that this team has gotten virtually no contribution yet for Anthony Rizzo and the starting pitching has underachieved until this week. The pendulum always swings back the other way and the struggles are surely not gone forever, but the Cubs look like they could pile up some wins in the near term.
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 25, April 29 - Cubs sweep Brewers in four game set with 2-0 win (15-10)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Tyler Chatwood (.440). This is not only back to back Superhero awards for Tyler, but already his third of the year. He threw seven innings yesterday allowing only two hits and three walks. He struck out four and of course allowed no runs. The Cubs starters did not allow a single earned run over the weekend.
- Hero - Addison Russell (.168). This is Addison’s first appearance on a positive podium since April 5 when he was in this same spot. Addison provided much of the offense yesterday with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. His lead off triple in the fifth lead to the first Cubs run and his sacrifice fly in the sixth inning produced the other.
- Sidekick - Willson Contreras (.081). The Cubs only mustered five hits and two walks on the day. Willson also had two hits in four at bats, so two Cubs accounted for four hits (Tyler Chatwood had the other). We’ve seen several games this year where the Cubs offense scattered eight, nine ten runners and didn’t really score off of them. The Cubs only had base runners in three innings yesterday. They scored in two of them. They still managed to strand six runners on the day.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.084). It was a bad day for hitting streaks. Albert was hitless in four at bats with a strike out.
- Goat - Javier Baez (-.063). Javy had exactly the same line. Both players lose career best 11-game hitting streaks. Baez started April with a Goat appearance on 4/1 and now on the second to last day of the month he makes his first negative podium appearance since then. It was a great stretch.
- Kid - Jason Heyward (-.061). Jason did have one of the walks, in his three plate appearances. His strike out in the fifth following Russell’s lead off triple was registered at (-.058).
WPA Play of the Game - Addison Russell lead off the fifth inning with a triple. (.124). Tyler Chatwood singled two batters later to give the Cubs the only run they needed.
* Brewers Play of the Game - Tyler Chatwood batted with the bases loaded in the second inning and two outs. He grounded out to shortstop to end the Cubs’ first scoring opportunity.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 15
- Hero - Kyle Schwarber and Tyler Chatwood 6
Up Next: The Colorado Rockies come to town for a three-game set. The two teams will finish their regular season series. Last week, the Cubs took two of three in Colorado. The Rockies then took two of three from the visiting Padres before heading out on the road. They started their trip with three in Florida where they lost two of three and managed only two runs in the three games. Imagine that, when things are going right for the Marlins, a decent team can have trouble scoring against them.
Jon Lester will look to keep things rolling for the Cubs pitching staff. He has been alternating good and bad starts. I’ll let the jury decide if the last one was a “bad” one. He only allowed four hits and two walks in seven innings. But three of the hits left the yard and he took the loss. If the pattern holds, this would be the better start. Let’s hope the pattern does hold. He did not face the Rockies in Colorado. He did face the once each of the last two years, both in Chicago. He hasn’t faced the Rockies in Denver since 2010. I’m sure that’s a big disappointment for him. Anyway, he’s lost each of the last two years in a Wrigley Field start against them. Last year he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings. The year before he was a tough luck loser as he allowed just one run on four hits and two walks in 7.1 innings while striking out 10. I’m thinking he gives the Cubs yet another quality start tonight.
Kyle Freeland will be the Rockies starter. The Cubs didn’t see him in Denver either. He’s made five starts on the young season, with a 1-3 record and a 4.33 ERA. He was superb last time out against the Padres allowing no runs on three hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings of work. The Pirates knocked him around a bit in the start before that in Pittsburgh. So a good offensive team can get to him. Last year he did start a game against the Cubs in May. He threw six innings in that one allowing four hits, four walks and striking out six. He allowed five runs though only three of them were earned. The Cubs have the advantage on paper in this one.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Carl Edwards Jr.
Other (leave your suggestion in the comments)