The first inning on Sunday was excruciating as a Cub fan. Not scoring in the top of the first, no big deal. But then Yu Darvish allowed a leadoff walk. He got Eugenio Suarez out which was a little relaxing. But then they always tough Joey Votto singled and it was like, eh at least it was only a single. Then Darvish hit Scooter Gennett and I finally snapped. I’ve been optimistic and even as my brain was saying there is an awful lot of Yu time, even beyond this year, I basically gave up on him as just the wrong call this offseason. Then he struck out Scott Schebler. But a single followed and the Cubs were down 1-0 with the bases still loaded in the first. He walked two more batters and hit another one as well. But he never allowed another hit on the day. Turns out, this was a very strong performance. Shame on me Yu. Now go do it again next time.
This game got me to thinking about how odd baseball can be. Here’s what I’m talking about. The Cubs have played the Reds five times this year. They’ve scored 28 runs in those five games. They’ve allowed seven. Without even being very good at math, that’s over five runs per game scored and less than two allowed. Yet the Cubs are 3-2 in those games. The Cubs have scored 22 runs in five games against the Cardinals. They’ve allowed 25. Yet they are 1-4 in those games. This is why all of the expected win totals various sites run with various formulas all show that the Cubs should be at least a game or two better than their record. Just looking at games against those two teams, you’d expect them to have at least two more wins.
After 10 games in 10 days with a rainout that kept it from being 11 games in 10 days, the Cubs have just five games this week. A little bit of a breather for the team. Especially with all five games being at home. This gives the Cubs a chance to line their rotation back up coming out of a doubleheader and get ready for seven games in seven days next week on a road trip east.
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 44, May 20 - Cubs win 6-1, win three of four in series and four of six on trip (25-19)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Yu Darvish (.234). Yu threw six innings allowing two hits, three walks, two hit batters and one run while striking out seven.
- Hero - Kyle Schwarber (.178). After Ian Happ drew what seemed like the 50th walk of the weekend in the second inning I thought, man is Kyle due for a long one. Insert your own thought about the blind squirrel and the nut, but Kyle hit a two-run homer that turned out to be all of the offense the Cubs would need. He added another single in the third and had two hits in four at bats.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.139). I don’t get greedy with those thought about players being due, so I didn’t also have the thought that Javy was due. But he was and he followed Schwarber’s home run with one of his own. He added singles in both the third and the fifth innings.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Jason Heyward (-.110). Jason was hitless in four at bats including grounding into a double play in the fourth.
- Goat - Willson Contreras (-.044). Just one hit in five at bats. He also struck out twice.
- Kid - Anthony Rizzo (-.043). Anthony finishes one notch higher as he also had one hit in five at bats, but he had an RBI.
WPA Play of the Game - The Cubs have had good success beating bad teams by jumping out to early leads. So it wasn’t ideal when the Reds struck first in the first. But then Ian Happ walked to start the second and Kyle Schwarber followed with a home run to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. (.165)
*Reds Play of the Game - Usually most of the biggest plays happen near the end of the game. Not Sunday. Scott Schebler singled with the bases loaded in the first to give the Reds a short lived 1-0 lead. (.093)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 10
- Hero - Pedro Strop 9
- Sidekick - Steve Cishek, Tommy La Stella, Tyler Chatwood 8
Up Next: An off day Monday and then the Cleveland Indians come to town Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Tomorrow, I’ll bring you the Cumulative Standings for Heroes and Goats. I’ll look at the Cubs overall record and their run differential. I’ll look at some hitting and pitching stats. I’ll also take a look at the pitching matchup for Tuesday night’s game.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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