Hopefully this weekend brought some calm to Cub Nation. I know on Thursday in the On the Horizon comments section, there were an awful lot of people hoping the Cubs could split. I kept trying to post logic and reasons for why I thought the Cubs win three and if they didn’t win three why that number would be four and not two (or even less). The Mets were reeling. Reality had to say that Saturday matchup against Jacob deGrom was a scary one and it was. Those Mets don’t appear to be a bad team, but their bullpen and starting rotation are in disarray. They’ve played too many games in a short span and they just looked worn out.
They did battle all weekend though and just about any of the games could have gone either way. But instead, the Cubs swept. They won six of seven on the road trip and they’ve reached 10 games over the .500 mark for the first time in 2018. This is the second hot stretch of the season for the Cubs. They won six in a row once previously and this time they’ve won seven of eight. The pitching has keyed both streaks. The Cubs appear to be most dominant when they are getting strong pitching performances and eking out a few runs.
Between those two dominant stretches, the Cubs are still capable of trading punches with anyone and still have an incredibly potent offense. There is very little this team isn’t capable of. That shouldn’t be a surprise, this team is now on pace for 95 wins, just shy of rounding up to 96. I’ve been saying repeatedly that I think they’ll win 97. Maybe that will come true. The Brewers remain two games ahead of the Cubs. If you believe that Brewers team is talented enough to win 100 games, then maybe you should be nervous about these Cubs. If not, relax and enjoy the ride. To be sure there are bumps and bruises still ahead. The Cubs only have two days off in this month of June. The full slate of games against the Dodgers looms and they’ve gotten back off the mat. It should be a fun challenge.
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 56, June 3 - Cubs steal their way to a sweep of Mets in 2-0 win (33-23)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Jon Lester (.423). Jon threw seven scoreless innings allowing just two hits and three walks. He struck out seven. Jon has now made 12 starts this year for a total of 70 innings. He has a 2.44 ERA. He’s 6-2 with the win yesterday. He is doing it largely on the back of a low BABIP and a high strand rate. However, both of those numbers are exactly in line with his 2016 season when he was a Cy Young contender. So he’s sustained these results over a season before.
- Hero - Willson Contreras (.111). Willson had one of the Cubs five hits on the day. He was the back end of the Javy Baez steal of home and ultimately scored a run. He lands here because he had the second of the two hits to set everything up (thus increasing the value).
- Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber (.090). He had a walk and a single on the day. His single moved Willson Contreras to third, helping to plate the second run in the decisive seventh inning.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Tommy La Stella (-.105). Tommy was hitless in three at bats. But he surely had some amusement on a day where he and Javy Baez constantly shifted between playing second and third base.
- Goat - Jason Heyward (-.105). In what should in no way diminish a great road trip at the plate, Jason was hitless in four at bats against a tough lefty.
- Kid - Ian Happ (-.070). Ian actually reached base twice via the walk in his four plate appearances. He was caught stealing once though.
WPA Play of the Game - WPA does not always recognize the same things that you do. WPA has as the play of the game Adrian Gonzalez’ double-play ball in the ninth inning. (.159) Given that it erased a leadoff single, it was definitely an important one. Brian Duensing records his first save since 2015.
*Mets Play of the Game - It should not surprise you, then, that Michael Conforto’s single leading off the ninth inning was the Mets play of the Game. (.089)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 11
- Hero - Pedro Strop 10
- Sidekick - Kyle Schwarber 9
Up Next: The Cubs have an off day. As I noted above, they have just two off days in the month of June. After that, they’ll be home for three games with the Phillies. They should miss having to face Jake Arrieta, though they will face Aaron Nola in the series and he has been fantastic as well. We’ll look at that series more tomorrow. As usual, I’ll have an article tomorrow on the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats. We’ll also look at run differential, as well as team hitting and pitching numbers.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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