I think it is important to start with the good. Mike Montgomery allowed just one run in six innings getting his fourth start yesterday. Mike is going to make it extremely difficult on Joe Maddon and the front office if they think they are going to just send him back to the bullpen when Yu Darvish is ready to return from the disabled list. Obviously, Yu has the kind of pedigree that you have to work him into the rotation when he’s ready to go, despite the struggles he’s had as a Cub. Tyler Chatwood has been a mess throughout 2018 and I have to imagine the Cubs will have to consider pulling him from the rotation when Yu returns in a few weeks. This isn’t a decision for today and these things have a tendency to work themselves out, but certainly he is forcing them to consider that decision making. Perhaps one of the things Chatwood is fighting is some kind of tendinitis or back strain? If so, might be an opportune time to get him a little time off and reset?
The Cubs bullpen also chipped in with two scoreless innings. They did allow two hits and a walk in that time, but as usual the bullpen has been fantastic. For the series, they threw a total of 10 innings, allowing eight hits, two walks and no runs. Closer Brandon Morrow didn’t appear in the series and with the off day today and will be very well rested heading to St. Louis. Carl Edwards Jr. is said to be close to returning. That should continue to bolster this pen with only the slight side effect of tightening up the roster and reducing the flexibility of the Iowa Shuttle that has been a boon to the team throughout.
The offense. Or lack thereof. I apologize for Joe all of the time, so let me start by saying that I’m with most of you out there saying that it is totally insane to lose a 1-0 game to your division rival without Kris Bryant picking up a bat. I know he’s been struggling and I know high leverage spots haven’t exactly ever been his forte. But all pre-excusing him aside, the struggling version of Kris Bryant is a better hitter than Chris Gimenez will ever be or ever has been. Willson Contreras was already in the game, so this was no saving your backup catcher situation. I understand it was probably futile, but I hate to ever lose without deploying one of the game‘s best hitters. Unless he is somehow hurt and we don’t know about it. I know someone said it recently that the shocking lack of power possibly being indicative of something sapping his power.
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 65, June 13 - Cubs shutout for second straight 1-0 (38-27)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Mike Montgomery (.191). That was a tough way for him to pick up his first loss as a starter this year. Ironically he’s also lost one game as a reliever this year and that was to the Brewers. As a starter this year Mike has a 1.14 ERA over 23.2 innings. He’s allowed just 13 hits, three walks, a hit batter and three runs. He’s struck out 14. He’s allowed two home runs, otherwise he’s been nearly perfect. Even the two home runs are not unsightly with that amount of work.
- Hero - Addison Russell (.049). Addison had a pinch hit single in the seventh. With the Cubs only registering six hits in the game to go with three walks, that was good enough to land him here.
- Sidekick - Justin Wilson (.047). Justin threw a scoreless seventh inning. He did allow a hit and a walk. If you still cringe when he’s entering the game, I understand where that comes from. Just know this, in 19 innings dating to May 1, he had allowed nine hits, 11 walks and one run. He’s struck out 27 in that time. 5.21 BB/9 isn’t ideal, but that 12.79 K/9 is pretty. Talk about sequencing, he allowed that one run and he has a loss.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.154). Anthony was hitless in four at bats. He struck out twice.
- Goat - Chris Gimenez (-.135). Chris did have a walk in four at bats, but that looked to be the Brewers working around him with men on base and Mike Montgomery on deck. Chris is a .218 lifetime hitter in 1019 plate appearances. Gimenez versus Corey Knebel is one of the biggest mismatches you’ll ever see this side of a relief pitcher batting at any point in a game.
- Kid - Kyle Schwarber (-.088). Kyle did have a hit in this one and also struck out twice in four at bats. His strike out to end the eighth with a runner on first was the culprit (-.060).
WPA Play of the Game: Lorenzo Cain batted with the bases empty and one out in the third inning. He hit a solo homer that provided all of the scoring in the game. (.114).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Justin Wilson allowed a single and a walk to start the seventh inning. He struck out the next hitter and then Erik Kratz stepped to the plate. Justin coaxed a double play grounder that kept the Cubs slim hopes alive. (.076)
- Superhero - Pedro Strop 13
- Hero - Steve Cishek and Ben Zobrist 9
Up Next: The Cubs have an off day today ahead of their three game set with the Cardinals this weekend. That means we’ll be checking in on the Cumulative Standings later today. As usual, we’ll also check in on the division standings and run differential, as well as hitting and pitching statistics. I’ll also take a look at the first pitching matchup in the Cardinals series.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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