I’m going to take credit for that win yesterday. First, I pointed out that the pitching simply hasn’t been good enough lately. The pitching completely carried this game. Second, I went to the game. The Cubs are undefeated this year when I go to see them. Okay, that’s a wild overstatement of a true fact. Since they are now 1-0 when I’m at the game. Third, when Jason Heyward pinch hit in the eighth inning, I totally turned to the people with me and told them he was about to win this game for us. So yeah, I’m putting this one in my win column. Mini-losing streak snapped.
Your mileage may vary, but how cool is it for me to be able to have the confidence to believe that Jason Heyward heading to the plate in a close game necessarily meant the Cubs were about to have good things happen? I’m so happy for Jason and his improvement. This isn’t to say that 2016/17 Heyward couldn’t have hit a ground ball that looked ticketed for a double play and bust it out of the box to beat the throw which as a result was rushed and thrown away. So this isn’t to say that this at bat was representative of all of his positive improvement. But my confidence absolutely was.
I wish everybody all across all of the fandoms would think of this year’s Jason Heyward the next time they are willing to just totally discard an asset that was once a very valuable asset. I’m not concerned if you are someone who thinks Tyler Chatwood should just be shut down for a few weeks or a month and then go to Arizona and work things out away from the MLB fields. That’s fine. That isn’t discarding an asset. But just continuing to use Tyler, if you are thinking after a start that we should just cut him, that’s probably a bit heavy handed. You never know, Chatwood could be the next Heyward. He’s talented and by all indications he’s been receptive to coaching and is working to try to make changes, they just aren’t working. I’ve heard many, many times that anything more than a tweak is hard to do at the MLB level in-season.
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 101, July 25 - Pitching propels Cubs to 2-1 win (59-42)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Carl Edwards Jr. (.199). Carl stepped up and threw two very important innings, taking over after Jon Lester allowed a home-run to tie the score at 1-1. This is six appearances now since returning from the disabled list. He’s thrown just 4.2 innings in those appearances, allowing four hits, one walk and two runs while striking out eight. The small sample size BABIP of .400 is unlikely to last and so his results should continue to improve as he returns to dominance.
- Hero - Jon Lester (.180). Jon pitched six innings and allowed four hits, no walks and struck out seven. The only blemish on an otherwise fantastic day was the home-run leading off the seventh.
- Sidekick - Pedro Strop (.168). Pedro worked around a hit in the ninth inning in recording his career high tying third save of the season. He’s never saved more than that at the big league level. This is the third time he’s recorded three. This should be the season he beats that number.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Addison Russell (-.137). Addison was hitless in three at bats. The biggest culprit here was grounding into a double play with runners on first and second and no outs in the fourth in an inning that unraveled extremely fast.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.104). Anthony has been sizzling, but he was held hitless in four at bats yesterday. He too grounded into a double play in the eighth after the Cubs had scored the go ahead run.
- Kid - Ian Happ (-.060). Ian had one walk in three plate appearances. That walk actually contributed to the eventual winning rally. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Ian also grounded into a double play in the fifth following a Kyle Schwarber lead off walk.
WPA Play of the Game: Jon Lester went back out for the seventh after six shutout innings. The first batter he faced, A.J. Pollock took one deep and tied the game at 1-1. (.190)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Javier Baez lead off the bottom of the eighth inning with an infield hit and went to second on a wild throw. (.132)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 19.5
- Hero - Brandon Morrow 13
- Sidekick - Pedro Strop 12
Up Next: Not mentioned in this article was Tyler Chatwood scoring the winning run for the Cubs yesterday. Fresh off of his pinch running efforts, Tyler is today’s starter. He is 4-5 with a 4.84 ERA on the season. Over his last seven outings, Tyler is 1-1 with a 6.02, so his overall trend is still backwards. However, despite some control problems, his last start was pretty effective. Tyler had 5.1 innings pitched allowing one hit, six walks and one run while striking out two. Obviously, as always that strike out to walk ration is downright frightening. Walks have been more of a pitch count issue than anything for Chatwood as he doesn’t allow a lot of hits and I’ve seed stats showing that he doesn’t actually allow all that many of his walks to score. Not that I’d actually defend what has been pretty universally terrible pitching to date from Tyler, but I’m just noting that his performances are anything but normal. Having resided in the National League West the last few seasons, Tyler has seen quite a lot of the D-Backs. He’s faced them five times in the last two season and has a 2-3 record with a 4.70 ERA in 30.2 innings.
Former Cubs draft pick Zack Godley will be the opposition today. Zack is 11-6 despite a 4.65 ERA on the season. In his last seven starts, he’s 5-1 with a 4.16 ERA, so things have been heading in the right direction. Last time out though, the Rockies scored four runs (three earned) in just five innings of work (in Arizona). Zack was very effective in two starts against the Cubs last year, throwing 11.2 innings and only allowing two runs. The Cubs did beat him up pretty good in a start in 2015, so they certainly can get to him, but he’s a pretty solid pitcher for Arizona. This will be another tough game as the Cubs look to salvage a split in this series. That would prevent a first series loss since that lost weekend in Cincinnati more than a month ago now.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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Carl Edwards Jr.