It had been quite some time since the Cubs faced a team who is currently sub .500. The past two nights, we’ve seen some of the things that happen when you face bad teams. First on Monday we saw the Cubs win 14-2 in a game that was never in doubt. Second, the Cubs fell behind 3-0 in the first inning yesterday and then clawed back to win 4-3. Appreciate these games. It is important to win a large share of those you should win. This week will be one of those times when the Cubs get a little chance to face teams whose eyes are very clearly set towards the future, much more than the present. That is to completely ignore that almost the entire season series with the Reds remainss. To be sure, the Mets didn’t much enjoy playing the Reds yesterday. But those things happen too.
The Cubs continue to experience a number of injury and illness issues early in the season. When David Bote pinch hit it sent me scrambling for my twitter feed to see what I’d missed. Rob Zastryzny then came in to pitch and I was amused a second time. Three Triple-A players appeared in the game early on. Strangely ironic that the Triple-A Iowa Cubs won their fourth straight yesterday even as the Cubs have been reaching down for healthy bodies a little extra recently. Just the same, I was happy to hear that Javier Baez was not the player heading to the disabled list given his scorching start to the season in which he is leading the Cubs in virtually every offensive category. I hate to see Jason Heyward lose time, but Jason surely doesn’t need playing when less than healthy to the number of things he’s had to process over the last few years. Get well J-Hey!
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 33, May 8 - Cubs rally for 4-3 win over Marlins (18-15)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - David Bote (.170). I wasn’t even aware David was back with the Cubs when I saw the update on the game that he’d had a two-run double. Good for him. He’s been scorching hot at Iowa including a recent five-hit game. He’s probably going to occupy the hitter spot on the Iowa/Chicago shuttle all year long ready to step in whenever someone is banged up. This is Bote’s first ever podium appearance and he does it with style.
- Hero - Brandon Morrow (.168). Brandon worked a very efficient ninth inning to record the save. Despite his first blown save over the weekend, he’s settled quite well into the closer role. This was his eighth save in nine chances. Over 13 innings, he’s recorded a 1.38 ERA.
- Sidekick - Kris Bryant (.142). Kris reached base twice in four plate appearances. Once via walk and once via hit by pitch. His biggest WPA event was actually moving from first to second in the eighth inning on a wild pitch (.068), nudging out the walk he drew (.063). He scored both times including the go ahead run in the eighth.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Jen-Ho Tseng (-.198). Two innings, four hits including a Justin Bour home run. He did strike out three. Such is the story of Tseng’s season so far. He’s getting a few more strikeouts, but allowing too many hits and home runs. I suspect he’ll get it worked out before the year is out and that this isn’t the last we’ll see of him.
- Goat - Addison Russell (-.165). Addison was hitless in four at bats. He lands here for popping up a bunt in the sixth inning (-.099). If the Marlins pitcher was paying enough attention to let the bunt fall, he’d almost certainly have turned a double play as Russell wasn’t even considering running to first.
- Kid - Ben Zobrist (-.137). Ben was also hitless in four at bats, though slightly less eventful. He did strike out twice. He also had a fantastic throw home for one of the widest margins I’ve ever seen a runner thrown out by at the plate.
WPA Play of the Game: Jen-Ho Tseng quickly retired the first two batters he faced. Starlin Castro followed with a single and Justin Bour hit a two run homer. (.180). Two products of the Cubs farm system tormented the Cubs in the early going.
- Cubs Play of the Game: In Triple-A night at Wrigley Field, David Bote came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and third, pinch hitting for his Iowa teammate Tseng. He doubled scoring both runs. (.170)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 15
- Hero - Kyle Hendricks and Pedro Stop 8
Up Next: The two teams will look to get in game three of their series and the final game of their seven game season series today weather permitting. The Cubs have already won four of six, so they will win the season series regardless. Jose Quintana will make the start for the Cubs. He had a rough start last time out. He allowed five hits and four walks in just four innings of work. He did strike out four and he allowed three runs, all unearned. He had an inning extended by an error and that elevated his pitch count and chased him from the game early. He is 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA so far this year. He started against the Marlins in Miami back on April 1. He threw six innings allowing six hits, four walks and six runs while striking out only two. Jose started slow last year too, hopefully he’ll settle in and be the Q he is when he pitches against the Brewers more often than not from here out.
Wei-Yin Chen will start for the Marlins today. He is 1-1 on the year in two starts covering just 9.1 innings. He’s allowed nine hits, two walks and four runs. Oddly, he pitched well against the Rockies and poorly against the Reds. His season got off to a slow start this year after starting on the disabled list. Chen has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. I feel confident is saying this is the first series in baseball history that has featured two starts by Taiwanese pitchers. Chen is left handed. He has started one game in his career against the Cubs and that was in 2016. He was very good that day, throwing seven innings and allowing only five hits and no walks while striking out seven. I love this matchup for a Cubs sweep.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)