I think one of the best things about Saturday was the order it happened in. That first game was a frustrating one. After scoring two runs in the eighth to tie the game back up at 4-4, the game went to extra innings. Justin Wilson had another meltdown in the 11th and the Cubs lost that one. Losing with a whimper as one of the league’s worst hitters drew a bases-loaded walk, the third of the inning to seal the loss.
The Cubs bounced back in game two with a 10-0 win. Given the choice, I’d definitely prefer those two games to be in that order. We weren’t left with a poor taste in our mouth, though I certainly understand if that poor taste is still there even after the win in Game 2. Though that 10-0 win and dominating performance from Jose Quintana has to have erased some of that. Jose’s numbers for the season continue to be excellent in games not pitched against the Braves. He won’t see them again until August and I’d say there is an even better than 80% chance that he doesn’t get the start against them in August.
The Cubs continue to bob along at five games over .500. Somehow, some way, the Milwaukee Brewers continue to shine through the first two months of the season. It’s probably going to take more than 90 wins to win the Central this year. The Cubs are on a pace to win 90.4 games right now. So there’s still plenty of work to do. But I think it is pretty safe to say this team hasn’t played it’s best baseball. Despite the loss in game one of the doubleheader, the Cubs are now 17-5 when they score at least four runs. That’s not a crazy high bar to reach. That reflects what happens when you have a strong offense and a very good pitching staff.
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 42, May 19 - Cubs rally in the eighth but lose in the 11th 5-4 (23-19)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Ian Happ (.275). Ian single-handedly tried to keep the Cubs in game one. He had three hits and a walk in the game. He doubled in the second, walked in the fourth, tripled in the sixth, and homered in the eighth. He forgot to single in the 10th (he struck out), not only would that have completed the cycle, but maybe the Cubs could have finished stealing this one despite playing poorly.
- Hero - Kris Bryant (.152). Kris had three hits in six at bats. Among those hits was an RBI double in the third to tie the game at 1-1.
- Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.143). Pedro worked a scoreless ninth inning. Pedro has a 1.92 ERA in 19 innings of work. He has a WHIP of .895 that is best on the regular pitching staff.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Justin Wilson (-.357). Justin may have gotten squeezed on the walk that started the 11th inning off. A single and two more walks later the Cubs were losers. There is no world in which Billy Hamilton should be drawing a game winning walk.
- Goat - Victor Caratini (-.326). Vic had a tough day at the plate. He grounded into a double play in the seventh after a lead off walk (-.118). He then grounded out in the eleventh with runners on first and second and two out (-.117). He had one hit in six at bats overall.
- Kid - Kyle Hendricks (-.320). You certainly aren’t going to win games when you have three players combine for a WPA of -1.003. That’s the equivalent of two losses really. Kyle wasn’t very good on Saturday. The Reds have a decent but not great lineup. He allowed six hits, two walks and four runs (three earned) in just over five innings of work.
WPA Play of the Game - With two outs in the eighth inning and a runner on first Anthony Rizzo faced Rasiel Iglesias. He doubled scoring Tommy La Stella from first to tie the game at 4-4. (.274)
*Reds Play of the Game - Kyle Schwarber batted with the bases loaded in the first inning and only one out. He grounded into a double play (-.144). One of the things the Cubs have been doing well against bad teams is jumping out to a first inning lead. This double play felt huge.
Game 43, May 19 - Cubs bounce back with 10-0 win (24-19)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jose Quintana (.250). Jose threw seven innings of one hit ball. He did walk four, but without any hits that wasn’t a huge issue. He struck out seven. So far in 2018 when not facing the Braves, he’s thrown 41⅓ innings and allowed 30 hits, 18 walks, and 14 runs (11 earned). That’s good for a 2.40 ERA. Please stop worrying about Q.
- Hero - Tommy La Stella (.203). Tommy had three hits in five at bats, getting a start while Javier Baez got a game off. Tommy only has two extra-base hits on the year (both doubles), but he has a .339 batting average and a .381 on base percentage. The man can hit.
- Sidekick - Ian Happ (.144). Ian continued a very strong series against the Reds with a home run and two more walks in five plate appearances. Ian is now at .259/.352/.518 on the year. His playing time is creeping up and rightfully so. Dating back to April 11, Ian has appeared in 30 games, starting 20 of them. Over that time he has a line of .300/.398/.625 in 93 plate appearances. That bat still has plenty of opportunity to be special.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.091). Willson had just one walk in five plate appearances. He did score a run, but he mostly missed out on all the fun.
- Goat - Kris Bryant (-.082). Kris was also relatively quiet. He did reach base twice on walks and also drove in a run with a fielder’s choice in five plate appearances.
- Kid - Addison Russell (-.043). Addison had a hit and also drew a walk in his five plate appearance, but lands here in a blow out game.
WPA Play of the Game - With one out in the fifth inning and the Cubs leading 2-0, there were runners on first and second when Anthony Rizzo stepped to the plate. He hit another double and gave the Cubs two more runs (.125). No podium appearances on the day for Anthony, but he does account for the highest WPA event in each game.
*Reds Play of the Game - With first and third and no outs in the first inning Kris Bryant came to the plate. He hit a ground ball and Ben Zobrist was thrown out at the plate for the first out and keeping the Cubs off the board (.084).
- Superhero - Javier Baez and Pedro Strop 9
- Hero - Steve Cishek, Tommy La Stella, Tyler Chatwood 8
Up Next: The Cubs and Reds finish their four-game series this afternoon. Yu Darvish is scheduled for the Cubs. He threw four pretty good innings in Atlanta allowing three hits, two walks and one run before leaving with leg cramps. That followed a bout of illness that caused him to miss time. Hopefully Yu is good to go today and can continue to get back in the groove. The Cubs need him at his best to be the team that they can be. Yu hasn’t started against the Reds since 2016. He’s 0-3 with a 5.56 ERA on the season and so he is still looking for that first win as a Cub.
Tyler Mahle is the opposition for the Reds. Tyler is 3-5 with a 4.34 ERA. He got knocked around the last time in San Francisco, allowing seven hits, one walk and four runs in 3.1 innings. He faced the Cubs in the 1-0 win the Reds had against the Cubs in brutal conditions on April 2. He threw six innings allowing one hit and two walks while striking out seven. Let’s hope the Cubs have seen some things on film and are ready to attack him today and put some runs on the board.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Day?
This poll is closed
Tommy La Stella
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)