Game like Sunday night and last night are definitely my favorite. I remember not all that long ago when I pretty much knew I could move on to other things if the Cubs fell behind three runs. Two runs was going to be a tall task, but three was more or less insurmountable. Oh sure, even the worst teams will occasionally pull off a huge comeback. But by and large, Cubs teams usually just didn’t have the fire power to come from behind once they’d fallen behind a few runs.
That’s not the case anymore. This team has scored four runs in 28 of its 51 games. It’s made it to five in 24 of them, and six in 21 of them. With the win last night, the team is a cool 18-0 if they score at least seven runs. And 22-6 if they score four. At 5.31 runs per game, the Cubs continue to lead the National League in runs scored per game. They are also slowly gravitating towards the top of the pile in runs allowed per game.
Once more this team has a feel to me that it is ready to bust out and have a stretch where it wins something like 15 of 20 and 22 of 30 and puts some real distance from .500. Of course it would help if the starting pitching would start to live up to some of its lofty expectations. The Cubs starters collectively only average 5.4 innings per start, lower than the league average of 5.5 and that puts a lot of strain on a bullpen that has been magnificent. It’s hard to imagine this team getting where its trying to go without meaningful contributions from Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood.
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 51, May 29 - Cubs rally back from early 3-0 deficit for 8-6 win (29-22)
THE THREE HEROES:
Superhero - Anthony Rizzo (.232). Anthony was not at all deterred
by a littlevery big controversy. He reached base four time in five plate appearances including the home run that tied this game at 4-4 in the seventh. I’m amused that even one of the prominent Cubs beat writers declared that Rizzo was “getting” hot. Rizzo has had a fantastic month of May, this didn’t just start. Anthony has a line of .308/.414/.604 in May. That’s a wRC+ of 170 (70% better than league average). He still only has a BABIP for the month of .273 to bring his season BABIP up to .230. For his careeer, that number is .284, so there is still plenty to come from Anthony.
- Hero - Ben Zobrist (.187). Ben had two hits and a walk in six plate appearances on the day. His two run homer turned the game around in the fifth. He also doubled and scored in the eighth to score the seventh run which ended up being the decisive one.
- Sidekick - Jason Heyward (.128). Jason Heyward had three hits in five at bats. That was his first three hit game of the season. Jason has had one four hit game and 11 three hit games as a Cub. It’s only 39 plate appearances due to time lost with injuries. But May 5 to present, Jason has a line of .286/.333/.429. That’s good for a wRC+ of 103. He has just one strike out over that period. He doesn’t have to produce massively at the plate to provide a lot of value with his defense.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Jon Lester (-.178). The Pirates have not been kind to Lester recently. They were not too kind yesterday at all. Jon allowed eight hits including two home runs. He allowed four runs. The good news was he didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. He also had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run to contribute to the come from behind.
- Goat - Addison Russell (-.110). Addison was hitless in five at bats on the day and was one of the only people who didn’t materially contribute to the offensive output.
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.093). Kris had just one hit in his five at bats. Kris has been relatively quiet lately. Surely he’ll bust back out any day now and somebody is going to be on the wrong end of that.
WPA Play of the Game - Anthony Rizzo hit a one out homer to tie the game in the seventh. Willson Contreras followed with a single and that brought Ian Happ to the plate. Ian doubled, driving in the go ahead run (.215).
*Pirates Play of the Game - Austin Meadows lead off the fifth inning with a home run to make it 4-2 Pirates. (.105).
- Superhero - Javier Baez and Pedro Strop 10
- Sidekick - Steve Cishek, Tommy La Stella and Kyle Schwarber 8
Up Next: The Cubs look for the sweep tonight against the Pirates. Kyle Hendricks will be on the mound. Kyle is 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA. He’s coming off of a dominant start against the Giants last time in which he threw seven innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out seven. He was a tough luck loser in April against the Pirates when he threw six innings allowing five hits, three (intentional) walks and two runs while striking out seven. He faced the Pirates three times in 2017 and had a 1-1 record and a 2.55 ERA.
Joe Musgrove will be the Pirates starter. He’s made one start this season, he was brilliant in that one. He threw seven shut out innings and allowed five hits, no walks and struck out seven. He picked up a win against the Cardinals in that one. Joe has started once against the Cubs back in 2016. He threw six innings in that one allowing three hits, three walks and two runs. That was enough to make him the loser. Joe is very split neutral over the course of his career. Joe Maddon can go in just about any direction he wants with tonight’s lineup.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Jon Lester (the hitter)