For the first time this year, I felt like we got a glimpse of what this Cubs team could look like. Was it perfection? No. Was it dominant? Yep. Cubs pitchers combined on a shutout allowing only four hits and one walk while striking out 11. Cubs hitters put together 13 hits, four walks, a hit batter and eight runs. Yes, they struck out another nine times, but that is more or less modern baseball.
I have to be honest, when the Cubs didn’t score in the top of the first and then Ryan Braun drew a two out walk and then literally just took second base, I was wondering when the early season nightmare would end. Around Bleed Cubbie Blue there had been plenty of discussion about the oddity that Jon Lester never faced the Brewers in 2017. The brazen way the Brewers aggressively ran the bases against him was cited as a reason. I do remember Joe juggling his rotation a fair amount in 2017, usually getting Lester a start a day early before the Brewers series. Getting one of your best pitchers an extra start over the season is a good strategy as long as he is healthy and strong.
Anyway, Braun decided he’d just take third as well. But Jon Lester was having none of that. He tried out the new bounce throw idea for the first time in a regular game and Voila! It worked. Braun was out. The Cubs put three on the board in the top of the second and the Brewers attempted no more daring base running as the Cubs gradually built their lead. The Cubs got contributions from a number of players and coasted to the 8-0 victory.
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 6, April 5 - Cubs bash Brewers in 8-0 victory (3-3)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Lester (.220). Jon had a nice bounce back start after getting knocked around on opening day. He threw six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk. He struck out six. He also picked off a runner (as was correctly predicted in one of the comment threads yesterday).
- Hero - Addison Russell (.122). Russell has been making some very solid contact through most of the start of this season. Last night, had two hits in five at bats. He singled with one out and eventually scored in the big third inning (.086). He also doubled in a run with two outs in the third (.048).
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.113). In a game that will provide a nice boost to his on base percentage, Javy managed to record only one at bat. That at bat was a two run single with one out in the second. He followed that with two intentional walks, an unintentional walk and a hit by pitch. Five times on in five plate appearances.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat/Goat (tie) - Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ (-.047). Anthony was hitless in five at bats. There wasn’t a lot negative in this game, his biggest negative was the foul out in the first inning with two outs and a runner on first (-.023). Ian Happ did have one hit, but he batted six times. He also struck out four more times. His biggest negative was his strike out leading off the game (-.023). Ian also stole a base.
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.024). The horrors. Kris Bryant is knocked out of his early season lead in the Heroes and Goats standing on a day where he had two hits in five at bats. Kris lands here because he flew out in the first following a Ben Zobrist single (-.028). When your team grabs an early lead and just keeps building on it, your first at bat is everything.
WPA Play of the Day - Finally, one for the good guys. Willson Contreras lead off the second inning with a single. Albert Almora Jr. then grounded into a fielder’s choice. Addison Russell singled and when the Brewers tried to throw Almora out going to third, Russell took second. That made it second and third with one out and Javier Baez stepped to the plate. Javy drilled a single to center scoring both runs (.106). That is the WPA Play of the Day.
*Brewers highest positive WPA of the day — The Almora fielder’s choice was a (.035) positive event for the Brewers. So basically, there was nothing positive about the Brewers game.
- Superhero - Kris Bryant, Steve Cishek, Eddie Butler, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Chatwood 3
Bryant’s tough luck bunches everyone back up at the top.
Up Next: Game two of a four game set with the Brewers. Kyle Hendricks will be the starter for the Cubs. Kyle comes off a slightly more wild than usual start against the Marlins in which he issued three walks in six innings. But, he was effective in limiting the Marlins to just one run in six innings. Brandon Woodruff will start for the Brewers. The Cubs have never faced Woodruff. That hasn’t gone well for the Cubs so far in 2018 as they’ve won the three games against guys they’ve seen before and lost the three against those they haven’t. Hopefully they’ll carry momentum from yesterday, get a good start from Hendricks and pull one out today.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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