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Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 49

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Cubs storm back from early 3-0 deficit; squash Giants 8-3

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been following WPA and Heroes and Goats for long enough that I usually have a pretty good idea what I’ll see the next day based on what kind of game it was. Every now and then, I’m fully surprised by what I see. In an 8-3 win, usually you get the starting pitcher as a Superhero. Nope, not today. The player that hit the three-run homer to break the tie? Nope, not that one either. Maybe even the guy that got three hits? Nope. Not him.

I suppose this all happened because Sunday night’s game was really two games in one. There was the first two and a half innings. That part of the game was filled with lots and lots of walks. It was frustrating. If you were watching and/or following along at a family party, this felt like one of THOSE games. After losing Saturday, this sure felt like the Cubs were going to lose and ultimately drop four of five on the homestand. To the Cubs credit, they were tied 3-3 during that frustrating portion of the game.

Then there was the second part of the game. The part where the Cubs poured it on, pulled away and won 8-3. In the end it was a comfortable win. The Giants are even more stuck in the mud than the Cubs have been, suffering through the loss of a handful of their core players for most of the season. They’ve been bobbing along in third place, bouncing between .500 and a couple of games below. The Good news for them is they’ve stayed within striking distance of the division lead. The Bad news for them is the Dodgers have played horrific baseball at times over the first 50 games of the season. The Dodgers are now immediately in the Giants’ rear view mirror and somehow, some way, it appears the Dodgers are going to end up back in control of that division shortly.

Before I move on to the actual WPA, I have to spike the ball. Insert the story of the blind squirrel here, but I said this a few days ago:


indeed. I do finally really like the pitching matchups. I’m going to go with two wins and a down to the wire loss. really close to a series we could win three. just giving them a nod for playing well and baseball is hard.

Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guy.

Posted by Thomas Smith on May 24, 2018 | 4:28 PM up reply

That one surely feels a lot better than the Indians series when I refused to make a pick because I hated the first pitching matchup and then didn’t want to think about the second matchup with a rookie going and the Cubs inability to hit guys they’ve not seen before.

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 49, May 27 - Cubs storm back from early 3-0 hole for 8-3 win (27-22)

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Randy Rosario (.191). Randy came into the game with two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning with the score tied at three. He threw 2⅓ scoreless innings allowing one hit and two walks. He struck out three. He also picked up his first major league win and of course the Superhero to go with it.
  • Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.130). Anthony lands here largely because of his first inning RBI single that cut the early deficit to 3-2. He also drew two walks in a day where he reached three times in five plate appearances.
  • Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.111). Kris also had an RBI in that first inning. He had an RBI double to start the scoring. He reached base twice in five plate appearances.


  • Billy Goat - Tyler Chatwood (-.203). Tyler Chatwood is broken right now. I hope the Cubs can put him back together before the whole thing spirals (even more) out of control. He retired eight hitters Sunday night. While retiring those eight hitters, he walked five more batters, and allowed six hits. He was fortunate to escape with only three runs allowed.
  • Goat - Jason Heyward (-.111). Jason had a triple and a run scored in his four at bats in the game. He lands here because he flew out to end the first with runners on first and second and to end the third with the bases loaded.
  • Kid - Kyle Schwarber (-.051). Kyle reached twice in his plate appearances with a hit and a walk. But someone had to land here. He did strike out twice.

WPA Play of the Game - In the top of the first inning, Mac Williamson came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs against Tyler Chatwood. The Giants were leading 1-0 already. Williamson singled to give the Giants a 3-0 lead. (.151)

*Cubs Play of the Game - Javier Baez came to the plate in the fourth inning with the score tied at three. Runners were on second and third and no out when he connected for his 13th homer of the season against former Cubs prospect Pierce Johnson. (.136)

Cumulative Leaders:

  • Superhero - Javier Baez 11
  • Hero - Pedro Strop 10
  • Sidekick - Steve Cishek, Tommy La Stella and Kyle Schwarber 8

Up Next: The Cubs move to Pittsburgh for a three-game set with the Pirates. The Pirates have been riding a bit of a roller coaster of their own. They’ve won only three of their last 10 and find themselves in fourth place heading into today. However, they’ve actually won 11 of 20. Mike Montgomery is going to be the Cubs starter today. This is his first start of 2018. He’s probably not stretched out quite enough to get very deep into the game, but I expect that Luke Farrell will be waiting in the wings to piggyback this start. Mike did start a game against the Pirates last year and it was a dandy. He threw seven innings allowing only six hits and no walks. He allowed only one run and struck out four. On the season Mike is 0-1 with a 5.33 ERA.

The Pirates will counter with Chad Kuhl. Chad is 4-2 with a 4.20 ERA on the season. Last time out, he threw six innings in a no-decision against the Reds. In that game he threw six innings, allowed five hits, one walk and one run. He struck out six. He definitely pitched well enough to win. The Pirates have scored 38 runs in their last 10 games which isn’t awful, but is off of the pace they were setting earlier this year when they were one of the top scoring teams in the National League. They scored eight of their 38 runs in just one game and thus barely scored over three runs a game in the other nine. Chad made four starts against the Cubs in 2017 and they were quite a mixed bag. The last time out he threw seven shutout innings. The first time though the Cubs tagged him for nine runs in under two innings. That is a large part of the fact that Chad has an 8.10 ERA over his last five starts against the Cubs.

I think the edge has to go to the Pirates in this one. With Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks pitching the other two games in the series, this definitely feels like a series the Cubs can take two out of three in and get back to their high-water mark of the season at six over .500.



Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Randy Rosario
    (46 votes)
  • 1%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Kris Bryant
    (1 vote)
  • 22%
    Javier Baez
    (17 votes)
  • 13%
    Albert Almora Jr.
    (10 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (1 vote)
76 votes total Vote Now