Well, that was a disappointing end to an otherwise promising homestand. There is certainly a tendency to read a little extra into an 11-2 loss. Certainly, when you lose 11-2 there is a fairly good chance that just about everything went wrong. That was certainly the case yesterday as the Cubs pitching flat out got wrecked. Meanwhile their offense went down with little more than a whimper once again. There really isn’t a lot to not be frustrated with following that game.
All of that said, I’m still drinking from the proverbial half (or more) full glass. Yes, the Cubs lost the last two games of the homestand. Yes, they dropped a series to the Rockies. Yes, their bats have looked over matched for most of the last week. But here’s the deal, the Cubs won five of seven on the homestand. If you want to pull back, the offense has gone silent for eight games and the Cubs won five of those games. If I gave you five wins to spread out any way you wanted in those eight games, they fell exactly the way you’d want them to fall. You’d certainly have to take the four division wins. They sent a message to a division foe (whose offense looked even more inept than the Cubs’ has), and for the cherry on top, they got one win against the Rockies to split the season series on the off chance that the two teams finished tied for something and it ended up mattering who won the season series.
So much of baseball is perspective. You can tend to think the pitching staff we saw much of the first three weeks and then again yesterday is real. That pitching staff has simply not been good enough. Or you can believe that the pitching that we saw through that five game winning streak is a sign of things to come. You can believe that the offense that was one of the best in baseball through the first three weeks was just a mirage based upon the ineptitude that has followed. We know through discussion boards that there are people on both sides and everywhere in-between on those issues. Obviously, the answer is always that on both sides of the ball the Cubs have extremely high end, elite potential. But they also have the ability to sustain mediocrity (and sometimes worse).
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 28, May 2 - Cubs get Rocked in 11-2 loss to Rockies (16-12)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Anthony Rizzo (.080). Let’s be clear, there are no real heroes when the team loses 11-2. But it is still encouraging that Anthony had two hits (out of the four the Cubs had) and homered for the second straight day. This team needs a hero right now and Anthony had been that hero so many times in the past.
- Hero - Mike Montgomery (.017). It’s inconceivable to me that someone made this spot while pitching 2⅓ innings, allowing three hits, a walk and two runs. But he entered with a 6-1 deficit and left with a 6-2 deficit. So he technically helped things out. WPA doesn’t “blame” him for the two runs because they scored while someone else was pitching.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.010). Javy had one hit in four at bats. But that hit, a ninth inning double, did nothing for his WPA (doubles are essentially meaningless when you are down 11-2 in the ninth). No, Javy landed here because he reached on an error in the first (.026).
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Yu Darvish (-.309). Sometimes I only have to look at the Fangraphs box score to get the number. There was no doubt this performance would land here. For the third time in eight games a Cubs pitcher allows three homers in the same game. For the first time, I had no question as to if I thought it was still a good start. At least he struck out more batters than he allowed to score (8-6).
- Goat - Ben Zobrist (-.090). Sorry Ben, someone had to land here. Only three different Cubs had hits on the day, so there were plenty of goats in this one. Ben was one of two Cubs to register four at bats without a hit. The double play he hit into in the fourth was the culprit (-.056).
- Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.050). Albert was the other. I know that Cubs Nation by and large loves this guy. Dating back to the last six games of his hitting streak, over Albert’s last 40 plate appearances he has a line of .189/.231/.216 (wRC+). He was fantastic before that and you can’t dismiss the good just because the bad happened. But if you are yelling that he needs to play every day no matter what, know that his bat is still very much a work in progress.
WPA Play of the Game - Yu Darvish walked the first batter he faced yesterday. The second struck out. The third hit a long home run to make it 2-0. (.165).
*Cubs Play of the Game - Anthony Rizzo hit a home run with one out in the fourth inning to cut the Rockies lead to 4-1.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 13
- Hero - Kyle Schwarber and Tyler Chatwood 6
Up Next: An off day ahead of a three-game road trip to St. Louis. It wasn’t talked about a lot, but the Cubs are in the middle of a 17-game stretch with the only travel being that baby trip to St. Louis. The Cubs haven’t played a team that currently has a losing record since April 2 in Cincinnati. They will get six of them in a row after the St. Louis series.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a look at the full cumulative standings. There’s been a fair amount of movement since we looked at them after the last Rockies series. I’ll also have a look at some team statistics and how they stack up against the league. Finally, we’ll take a look at some of the early season returns for the WPA play of the game. What are the biggest ones? Who has the most? How many of them were positive WPA events for the Cubs?
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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