I know across the internet, a lot of the bloggers will sometimes start writing mid-game, particularly while the game is starting to get out of hand. I don’t do any of that, I almost always write the next morning, so I’ve got time to breathe, soak things in and find the balance in what I’m going to write. That isn’t to say that in the waning outs of a game that I’m not already thinking about what I might write the next morning.
I suspect about a bazillion words will be written across the internet about David Bote today. I think my favorite one so far involves the fact that his car still sits in a parking garage in Des Moines because he had been bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and MLB so many times that hasn’t yet moved to Chicago. I’ll say this, there is 100% certainty I’ll be chronicling this game again in the off season as David Bote just won WPA player of the year. He can (and won’t) be tied, but that was the largest possible WPA event. A grand slam, trailing by three with two outs in the bottom half of the last inning of a game. I haven’t seen it, but I’m going to assume not too many guys own two key last-inning home runs, one a walkoff, in their rookie season. David Bote could have a 12-year career, appear in an All-Star game or two, maybe even win a World Series or two and he’s already had some of the best moments he’ll ever experience on the baseball field. That’s pretty cool.
I love an improbable comeback here at Heroes and Goats, but I want to talk about the guy who would have won the Superhero award before that ninth inning. Cole Hamels. Cole has been a force since arriving with the Cubs. It’s been just three games and we all know that you don’t enshrine people anywhere for just three games. But man, has that guy been awesome or what? Max Scherzer is freaking amazing and so if Cole had been on the wrong side of a shutout, I’d have tipped my cap to Max and not lost a moment’s thought on it. Sometimes you get beat by the best. But man, Cole Hamels was one fluky, veteran single from he-who-shall-not-be-named from matching the best pitcher in the National League today pitch for pitch.
There is no rush to name a game one starter for the playoffs yet. Cole Hamels will start playoff games for the Cubs. Did he look like a guy who enjoyed the big moment or what? That was one of the things we heard about him when he came over, that he lives for those big moments. The bigger the better. We’ve seen him shine in some big moments in the past. To be sure, he’s not the same pitcher he was and to be honest, there will be some rough moments in his Cubs career. But what a steal that guy was.
I conclude my open with this. The Cubs have won games started by Clayton Kershaw, Aaron Nola, Jacob deGrom, and now Max Scherzer. They won two games started by Ross Stripling while he had an ERA south of 2. I may be missing some names from that list. No, the Cubs haven’t particularly lit up any of those guys. But no one else does either. They’ve stared down the best, kept the game close and then had the ability to win the game later. Those are things you want to have in your arsenal if you fancy yourself as a contender for the championship. They added another memorable comeback to their mountain of those. That’s another tool you want. They play good defense. They have an offense that can explode. They have a bullpen that can shut games down. The teams from the American League have firmly earned their status as the favorites for the championship. But this Cubs team will reach the post season. And they do have a fighter’s chance. I’ll take it.
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 117, August 12 - Cubs erase 3-0 deficit with walk-off grand-slam (68-49)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - David Bote (.901). If you ever wondered, the answer is .901. That is the biggest possible WPA event. David Bote had it. Given that the last walk-off grand-slam while down three runs for the Cubs was 55 years ago, he’s not going to have any company any time soon. This one at bat will account for the largest WPA Play of the Year and the largest WPA Game of the Year (as he nudged out Eddie Butler’s heroic extra-inning relief game).
- Hero - Cole Hamels (.265). He allowed two base runners in seven innings of work. Kudos to the opposing hitter for a very strong at bat. What terrible sequencing that the only two runners he allowed were in the same inning. He threw seven innings, allowed one hit, one walk and struck out nine.
- Sidekick - Tommy La Stella (.097). Getting a hit off of Max Scherzer these days is pretty cool. Go you Tommy. His 17 pinch hits lead all of baseball. He’s no longer on pace to reach the record books, but he’s once again a weapon off of the bench.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Addison Russell (-.152). I’m going to not rip Addison too bad. He was hitless in three at bats and struck out twice. He lands here because of the foul out after La Stella’s lead-off pinch single in the seventh.
- Goat - Brandon Kintzler (-.138). He didn’t seem like the right guy to hold a 1-0 deficit right where it is and give the offense a chance to steal one in the ninth. Still, that inning got sideways when Kyle Schwarber misplayed a ball at the wrong time. Kyle has no shot at getting Turner at second with his speed, he’s got to make the sound play and get that ball to third and not let that happen. Kintzler got tagged with two runs on two hits and two walks in 1⁄3 of an inning.
- Kid - Javier Baez (-.134). Javy is mystified by Scherzer. He’s far from the only one, but he ended up with a hitless night in four at bats including three strike outs. Hopefully he bounces back from a rough weekend just in time for the Brewers to come to town.
WPA Play of the Game: I know I’ve always wondered what the score is for the maximum possible event. I’m sure I could have searched it out, but I’d just always hoped I’d get to cover one. There it is. Thank you, David. (.901)
*Nationals Play of the Game: The pitching was so dominant in this game that there was but one event over .100. The Nationals play of the game was one for Scherzer, because of course. In the seventh, Max retired the first two Cubs but Albert Almora Jr. followed with a double. Kyle Schwarber was ultimately intentionally walked and Willson Conteras struck out. (.094)
- Superhero - Javier Baez 25.5
- Hero - Ben Zobrist 16
- Sidekick - Pedro Strop 15
Up Next: Tuesday afternoon the Cubs open a two game series with their division rival Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have lost six of 10, and 17 of 30. Their bullpen has appeared human and their starting pitching is running out of gas. And if anyone among us don’t think they’ll fight to the death over the next two days, they haven’t been paying attention. I’ve long held that the Cubs would ultimately pull away and win the division by at least five games. After last night’s thievery, I’m getting more confident again in that. Five games in the loss column this time of year is enormous. The Brewers just lost two of three in Atlanta and right before that they lost two of three to those pesky Padres.
The Cubs will send Jose Quintana to the mound. How convenient that he’s lined up for the first game. He is 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA this season. His last seven is right in line with that as he is 4-2 with a 4.31. Last time out, he took a loss in Kansas City in a game that was better than the final line. He threw 6⅓ innings, allowed six hits, two walks, and five runs. He was allowed to face a few too many hitters in the seventh inning. Jose has dominated the Brewers dating back to a shutout last September 24. In his last five starts against them, dating back to last July, he is 3-1 with a 1.06 ERA and 32 strike outs in 34 innings. They have just 16 hits against him, nine walks. They do have two home runs. If Q could put together one of those starts tomorrow, it would be just what the doctor ordered.
The Brewers counter with Jhoulys Chacin who is having a fantastic season. He is 11-4 with a 3.91 ERA. He’s a mixed bag over his last seven starts with a 5-1 record but a 4.39 ERA. That ERA is driven almost entirely by one horrid start against the Dodgers (who can certainly do that to you) in which he allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 4⅓ innings, including three home runs. Last time out he was decent in the Brewers one win over the Padres. He threw six innings and allowed six hits, one walk and three runs. He recorded the win in that one. He’s faced the Cubs once this year and he was fantastic. He threw six innings of shutout ball allowing four hits, three walks and striking out seven. The Cubs beat him once last year, but only scored two runs over six innings in that one, so expect this to be a tough one.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Tommy La Stella