Alternatively, I could have gone with “baseball isn’t easy.” Regardless, the point is that the first pitching matchup in this series looked to be the most favorable. Alas, Kyle Hendricks was off and Zach Eflin was on. Doesn’t Zach Eflin seem like a guy who should be in teen movies or something? Either way, I’m calling it a tip the cap night and just turning the page.
I’d like to also say that the first week in June is far too early to be seriously scoreboard watching. With over 100 games remaining, you take care of your own business. That said, there is little harm in us as fans taking a peak at how the other teams are doing. As long as you know not to freak out too much because there are a lot of things that can happen between now and the end of the season. You don’t worry too much about the standings if you are pretty sure your team has the biggest, strongest and fastest horses. If you were to peak at the standings for recreational value, you’d see that all three of the other teams that are on the radar at all in the National League Central lost. If you are paying closer attention, you’d recognize that the Brewers have now lost three of four against the American League Central. I’d make jokes about that, but the Indians were a problem for the Cubs too.
The Cubs have done a better job of late limiting the walks allowed. But last night that problem reared its ugly head again. In a Kyle Hendricks start no less. Kyle walked three in a very un-Kyle-like performance. The Cubs walked six in total and three of those runs scored. The Cubs offense mustered eight hits including two doubles. Many days that will account for more than a single run. But the Cubs only drew two walks and didn’t have three baserunners in any inning. For a silver lining, the Cubs got all of their front-line relievers another day off after a lot of work last week with a number of close wins and an extra inning game.
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 57, June 5 - Cubs fall flat against Phillies in 6-1 loss (33-24)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kyle Schwarber (.031). Kyle had a sacrifice bunt (I think he might have at least been thinking about bunting for a hit), a double and a walk in his four plate appearances.
- Hero - Cory Mazzoni (.017). Two innings of one hit and two walk relief. He kept alive the Cubs slim hopes of a comeback.
- Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.012). Anthony had two hits in four at bats and drove in the only Cubs run with an eighth inning double.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Kyle Hendricks (-.259). Kyle seemed off all night. Even at that, five hits and three walks doesn’t usually end up with five earned runs. He did strike out five.
- Goat - Javier Baez (-.143). Javy made a couple of nice defensive plays. Unfortunately those don’t generate WPA for the defender. At the plate Javy was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
- Kid - Albert Almora Jr. (-.065). Albert was hitless in four at bats.
WPA Play of the Game - Kyle Hendricks retired the first four batters he faced last night. The fifth drew a walk which already felt odd. The next one was Nick Williams who hit one through the wind which was blowing in for a two-run home-run (.176).
*Cubs Play of the Game - Kyle Schwarber doubled with one out and Anthony Rizzo on first in the fourth inning. (.054) Unfortunately, the Cubs couldn’t get either run home.
- Superhero - Kyle Schwarber 12
- Hero - Pedro Strop 10
- Sidekick - Javier Baez 9
The last four podium appearances for Kyle Schwarber have been on the positive side. The last two for Javier Baez have been on the negative side. They flip flop in the standings. The king is dead, long live the new king?
Up Next: The teams play game number two of their three-game series. Jose Quintana will be the Cubs starter. He is 6-4 with a 4.30 ERA on the year. But in his last seven starts he is 4-3 with a 2.54 ERA, so he’s definitely trending up. Last time out he was very good against the Mets. He picked up a in with six innings of scoreless ball. He allowed three hits and two walks while striking out six. He faced the Phillies last August and was tagged with a loss. He allowed nine hits, four walks and six runs in just five innings of work. He did strike out seven.
The opposition is a formidable one. Aaron Nola is 7-2 with a 2.18. In his last seven starts he is 5-1 with a 2.11. He’s thrown at least six innings in every one of those games, has completed seven or more in four of them. He hasn’t faced the Cubs since 2015 in a start that was very much a mixed bag. He threw 7⅔ innings and recorded a win. He allowed five hits, two walks and four runs. He allowed two home runs but he did strike out six. He also threw only 92 pitches. The Phillies have let him get to 110 pitches in each of his last two starts and only once in those last seven starts has he failed to record at least 90 pitches and that one was 89. He’s equally tough on RHH (.519 OPS) as LHH (.521 OPS). On the bright side, this is probably not the best starter the Cubs have faced in the last week.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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