You’ll pardon me if I don’t run a victory lap over last night’s game. First of all, I view the game as merely taking care of business. Yes, it certainly beats the baseball we saw in the first week of the season when the Cubs last played teams that are currently sub .500. But still, your mileage may vary, but I just don’t get the same joy out of pounding a bad team. Secondly, a potential injury to Javier Baez is upsetting. Of course the run he is on is bound to end, but seriously if a Cub was going to lead the major leagues in RBI at any point in time, how many Cubs do you think you’d have named before you said Javy’s?
Yu Darvish went to the DL as well as the Cubs continue to deal with a variety of minor injuries and now illness. I’m glad the Cubs continue to be cautious with all of these situations. I’m sure Javy will be held out for two or three days even if he doesn’t go to the DL, much like Kris Bryant did after being hit in the head. Yu could possibly just miss the one start if he’s ready to go after that. That’s one nice thing about the 10-day DL. With any off day on your schedule, there is a potential opportunity to put a pitcher on the DL and only miss one start for something like a minor illness or a blister.
So the Cubs put up 14 runs last night and given that it was the 32nd game of the season, that means they added just about half a run on their per-game average last night. They also sadly scored A) exactly the same number of runs as they scored during their five game losing streak this snapped and B) two more runs than they scored during the preceding five game winning streak. I don’t know what any of that means other than for one day the offense looked really, really good again. To the Cubs credit, the Marlins starter came in with an ERA of 1.09 over 33 innings. So it isn’t like he was a sacrificial lamb. That would be the pitcher that threw the next four innings and allowed the second touchdown.
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 32, May 7 - Cubs bats maul the Marlins 14-2 (17-15)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.185). This one counts double in my books. Not only does he land here via WPA, but after a stretch of games that depleted the bullpen a fair bit and then facing uncertainty tonight with the Yu Darvish injury, this was a big deal. I recall vividly Kyle following long extra-inning games at least two times last year and each time rising to the occasion.
- Hero - Kris Bryant (.132). Kris had a fantastic night with three hits and a walk in four plate appearances. He had a double and a home run and drove in two. He lands here because his was the first homer.
- Sidekick - Javier Baez (.100). Get well soon kid. He had just one hit in four at bats before leaving this one. That hit was a three run homer. I imagine you’d win quite a wager if you had Baez, Jed Lowrie, Kris Davis, Didi Gregorious and A.J. Pollock as your top five in the majors in RBI at any point in the season beyond the first week or so.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Willson Contreras (-.015). Just one hit in five at bats and it wasn’t until the fifth at bat. A late RBI single can some days get you onto one of the Hero podiums. But not in a blowout. Contreras hit the ball hard all day but just couldn’t find any gaps.
- Goat - Addison Russell (-.001). Tough crowd. He had two hits including a two run double. He also drew a walk in one of his five plate appearances. He made the second out of the second inning with no one on and that (-.023) lands him here.
- Kid - Cory Mazzoni (.000). Even tougher crowd. Cory was one of two Cubs who produced .000 WPA on the day because by the time they appeared in the game there was no doubt about the outcome of this game. The other was Tommy La Stella who had an RBI single. I used editorial discretion to give this spot to Cory as I value the RBI single slightly more than the scoreless inning in a 14-2 rout.
WPA Play of the Game - Didn’t take long for this one to happen. Ben Zobrist drew a one out walk in the bottom of the first and Kris Bryant followed with a home run. (.165). Bryant is so good at avoiding high value WPA situations that this was his first WPA Play of the Game in either direction.
* Marlins Play of the Game - But wait! The first two Cubs singled to start the third inning. Kris Bryant followed with his lone out of the game, a strike out. He failed to advance the runners with no outs. (-.039). (but then Javy homered and that was pretty much ball game).
- Superhero - Javier Baez 15
- Hero - Kyle Hendricks and Pedro Strop 8
Up Next: Game two of a three game set. The Cubs starter has not been announced. With Mike Montgomery having thrown three innings of relief on Sunday after also pitching on Saturday, he almost certainly won’t be starting. Jen-Ho Tseng was scratched from his start in Iowa’s game yesterday. Jen-Ho is 1-0 with a 7.50 ERA at the MLB level. A little bit of bad luck in that ERA as he had a WHIP of 1.17. He’s off to a tough start in Iowa this year. He has an 8.04 ERA in 31.1 innings of work. He’s suddenly very hitable there as he’s allowed 45 hits in 31.1 innings. That’s worse than his worst year in the minors by almost two hits per nine innings. He’s also sporting the worst home run rate he’s ever had (other than his two major league appearances last year). And to top it off, his walk rate is at its highest level. But hey, he’s also striking out more batters than ever in his minor league career, so there is that I guess.
The Marlins will start Jose Urena. He is 0-5 with a 4.28 ERA on the season. He did face the Cubs back on March 29 and threw four innings allowing six hits, four walks and five runs in what is both his shortest and worst outing of the season. The last two times out against the Phillies and Rockies, he’s gone seven innings each time, allowing one earned run in each (three runs overall), 13 hits total, two walks total and 11 strike outs. So he’s pitching pretty well even though he did lose both of those games. You should not get many losses when you throw seven innings allowing only one earned run. With numbers like he’s had over the last two games, you’d expect to be getting Cy Young votes. But he’s made one road start and one start against the Cubs. Both of those were rough starts for him, so I’m hoping the Cubs can keep the offense rolling.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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