There is an old baseball saying that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher. The Cubs had to turn to a Triple-A pitcher yesterday because of a rain out last Monday. The Cubs had no available pitcher to start the game. That left the options at Luke Farrell who is vaguely stretched out as a starter or one of the actual current Triple-A starters in Iowa. The Cubs elected to go with Farrell and Farrell was not the guy to swing the momentum.
This summer, I’ve appreciated a country song that is getting a lot of airplay on the radio. David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney collaborated on a song that goes through my head after the Cubs lose. I’ll share the chorus with you as I think it is a perfect thought for the day. Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. And nobody’s gotta worry ‘bout nothing. Don’t go hittin’ that panic button. It ain’t worth spilling your drink. Everything’s gonna be alright. Alright, alright.
In 2016, there was June into July. Swept at home by Cardinals. Lose three of four in Miami. Win three in Cincinnati. Lose four straight in New York. Lose two of three to Reds at home. Lose one at home to Braves. Lose two of three in Pittsburgh. In 2017 there was the end of May. Lose three straight in Los Angeles, lose three straight in San Diego. These things do happen. They are frustrating to be sure. But they don’t mean anything in the larger picture. Almost every team goes through a dead period and the Cubs are there now. The Reds are playing with some confidence right now and their bullpen is tough if they can actually get a lead. Don’t blow this series out of proportion in your head. No matter who you lose to or how you lose to them, each loss is only one loss. No losing streak by itself ever disqualified a team from postseason play.
Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. And nobody’s gotta worry ‘bout nothing. Don’t go hittin’ that panic button. It ain’t worth spilling your drink. Everything’s gonna be alright. Alright, alright.
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 74, June 23 - Cubs pummeled by Reds 11-2 (42-32)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Willson Contreras (.087). The Cubs mustered six hits and five walks on the day. One of them was a Willson Contreras home-run. At the time, it cut the Cubs deficit to 2-1. It was his only time on base in four at bats.
- Hero - Ian Happ (.058). In his short time in the majors so far in his career, Ian has been a bit of a streaky hitter. Maybe yesterday’s game will get him on a hot streak. He had two hits and two walks in four plate appearances.
- Sidekick - Anthony Bass (.007). He threw one scoreless inning and struck out two along the way. In nine innings of work, he’s allowed one run, striking out eight and walking none. He’s done it largely in low leverage situations, but he’s making the most of his opportunities.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Brian Duensing (-.322). How many of you have at some point screamed at the TV and said it’s a freaking pitcher, I don’t understand why he doesn’t just throw right down the middle? I know I have. I guess we found out yesterday. Brian fell behind to a pitcher trying to work carefully with the bases loaded and when that didn’t work, he threw three straight fastballs down the heart of the plate. The last one ended in a grand slam. To a pitcher.
- Goat - Luke Farrell (-.077). Luke’s had one glaring problem with the Cubs so far this year. He’s been victimized by the long ball. The home run he allowed in the second inning was the fifth he’s allowed this year. In 20 innings of work. The two hits and two walks he allowed in 2.2 innings isn’t exceptionally bad. But he has to figure out how to keep the ball in the park. He has a 30% ground ball rate and a 21.7% home runs to fly ball rate. That’s not good.
- Kid - Tommy La Stella (-.076). Tommy has had a rough month of June. Filling in for a slumping Kris Bryant, he provided no offense in his four hitless at bats.
WPA Play of the Game: I talked about momentum and the starting pitcher. Yeah, the last thing you want to see is a walk to start the game. Scratch that. A walk followed by a two run homer. That’s how this game started as Tucker Barnhart homered in the bottom of the first. (.148).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Willson Contreras’ solo home-run. (.092)
- Superhero - Pedro Strop 16
- Hero - Jon Lester 13
- Sidekick - Javier Baez 11.5
Up Next: The two teams wrap up their four-game series this afternoon. Tyler Chatwood’s wife is getting ready to have their first child so he won’t be available, as noted here:
Mike Montgomery to start today for the Cubs as Tyler Chatwood’s wife is in labor.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 24, 2018
Talked to Montgomery the other day. Said he was preparing for today, not tomorrow, to be safe. Threw a little less between starts as the innings start to pile up. Good test as Reds lefties have been on fire.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 24, 2018
Al’s game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT with more on Mike Montgomery.
The Reds will send Sal Romano to the mound looking to bring the team its seventh consecutive win. The Reds haven’t had a winning streak longer than six since July of 2012 when they won 10 straight. Sal is 4-7 with a 5.18 ERA. He’s moving in the wrong direction too. In his last seven starts, he’s 2-4 with a 6.69 ERA. That actually includes his last start when he threw seven shutout innings against the Tigers. He allowed four hits and four walks. Oh yeah, it also includes the eight innings of one run ball against the Royals the start before that. So just one run in his last 15 innings of work. After allowing 27 runs in the 22⅔ innings before that. Talk about a mixed bag. The Cubs faced him in that stretch, on May 19. On that day, Sal threw five innings and allowed six hits, six walks and seven runs. Let’s hope Romano can’t throw a third straight strong game and that his good starts are only against American League Central foes.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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