Yeah, I forgot. I forgot the strange bugaboo this team has when facing a pitcher they haven’t seen before. So even Lucas Giolito who came into the game with a 7.25 ERA held the Cubs to just three runs. I was otherwise occupied and didn’t watch yesterday’s game, and that’s probably good timing. I don’t enjoy watching Tyler Chatwood pitch and Giolito seemed like a poor man’s Chatwood yesterday. What with walking seven hitters but only allowing two hits. Of course seven walks makes every inning a scoring chance and that’s how the Cubs managed three runs against him with just those two hits.
Five wins in six games with one game (hopefully) to play. I bet those Braves are super excited to see a rainy Chicago this morning. I guess at least it should be somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees warmer than the last time they tried to get in a game with the Cubs on a rainy day. Regardless of what happens today, this has been a successful homestand. It was fun to dream on back to back sweeps against two putrid teams, but it’s just hard to have enough phases of the game click every day to keep winning. Kyle Hendricks wasn’t super sharp yesterday and the Cubs bats had an off day.
One trend continued. The Cubs are 6-13 when failing to score four runs. 19 teams in 37 games is entirely too many for an offense this good to be held with three or less runs. Another one didn’t for a day. Going back to that rain soaked come from behind victory, the Cubs were 12-3 at home (now 12-4). The Cubs are establishing some home dominance. Yes, there were five wins against the Marlins and White Sox in there. But the Cubs are going to remember more the come from behind against the Braves, and the sweep of the Brewers. Even with losing three of the first four home games of the season, the Cubs are 13-7 at home. That’s pretty good.
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 37, May 13 - Cubs bats take the holiday off in 5-3 loss to White Sox (21-16)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Ian Happ (.115). Ian makes his first appearance on the top step since his dramatic home run to win game number 159 for the Cubs last September 29. He had a hit and a walk (and two strike outs) in four plate appearances. We’ve seen Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber struggle at the major league level and come out the other side. I believe Happ will too.
- Hero - Steve Cishek (.081). Steve had one of his better outings of the year. He faced five batters and retired them all, striking out three.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.075). Javy only had one hit in four at bats. So he picked the one with runners on second and third and two outs. Baez continues to lead the NL in RBI and we’ve reached mid-May. Fun stuff.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Kyle Hendricks (-.173). How unusual is this? Kyle Hendricks is so consistent and avoids clunkers so well that this is his first Billy Goat appearance in almost a year. The last one was on May 29 of last year. Kyle wasn’t all that bad, but squandering the early lead cost him. He allowed six hits, no walks and three runs in six innings. He struck out six. A starting pitcher who gives you six hits, no walks and six strike outs in six innings consistently is going to usually allow less than three runs.
- Goat - Willson Contreras (-.139). Willson cooled off a bit. He reached base just one time in four plate appearances and that was via the walk. He did score a run and even steal a base. Unfortunately for him, the fielder’s choice ground out with runners on first and third and one out in the first inning was a big negative when the lead runner was cut down at the plate (-.083).
- Kid - Brian Duensing (-.137). He probably wasn’t going to be perfect for the season. He faced three batters and it went walk, sacrifice bunt, single and that gave the White Sox an important insurance run.
WPA Play of the Game - The sixth inning started out innocently enough. Kyle Hendricks was pitching with a 3-2 lead and he retired the first hitter on a grounder to second. Jose Abreu followed with a single. No big deal. But then Nick Delmonico tripled to tie the game. (.228).
*Cubs Play of the Game - Javier Baez came up with runners on second and third in the bottom of the first. He lined a single and gave the Cubs a quick 2-0 lead.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 14
- Hero - Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek 8
Up Next: As alluded to above, the Cubs and Braves have a one-game makeup today for the game following the crazy come from behind win the Cubs had back on April 14. It’s quite a bit warmer, but it doesn’t look all that different from where I’m sitting than it did that day. If the teams can play today the two top scoring teams on a per game basis in the National League will square off in Chicago and then both fly to Atlanta for three more games there to finish the season series between the two teams. The teams split two games back in April.
Jose Quintana will be the Cubs starter. Jose is off to a tough start despite his 4-2 record. He surely isn’t happy with a 4.42 ERA and 21 runs (18 earned) allowed in 36.2 innings. Last time out he was very good against the Marlins. He threw six innings allowed five hits, two walks and one run while striking out five. You may recall he started that last game against the Braves too. That didn’t go well for him. He allowed seven hits, four walks and seven runs with only one strike out. The weather conditions were brutal that day. Hopefully today will go much better than that. It dates back to 2013, but Jose has quite an odd career line against the Braves 2-0 with a 7.71 ERA.
Julio Teheran will be the Braves starter. Len Kasper pointed out that these two pitchers are tied for the all time record for wins by a Colombian born pitcher. Given that both pitchers are under 30, they’ll be linked in that way for a number of years. Teheran is 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA so far this year. Last time out he was magnificent versus the Rays. He threw six innings and allowed just four hits and no walks. He struck out seven. He hasn’t allowed a run yet in May as the start before that he threw seven scoreless against the Mets. Julio last faced the Cubs last July in Atlanta. The Cubs beat him that day but he didn’t pitch badly. He allowed five hits, four walks and two runs in six inning of work. He struck out five. The Cubs will have their work cut out for them today.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Other (leave your suggestion below)