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2018 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 108

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Cubs bullpen falters as bats struggle

MLB: San Diego Padres at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of ways to look at the game that happened last night. For the portion of the Cubs fan base that resides largely on Twitter, that place is panic, frustration and anger. I can’t imagine too many people who reside in that neighborhood are regular readers of what I have to write. I’d think my patience and confidence would be grating and feel like a waste of time.

What did I see last night? I saw Mike Montgomery look pretty strong. Yes, the Padres aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. I’m not suggesting he threw five shutout innings against the Red Sox or Yankees. But he’d been struggling a bit lately and though he did allow seven hits, he only walked one and most of those hits looked like something out of a slow pitch softball game. They were just bloops and gappers. Those count, but this wasn’t balls lined back through the middle, balls hit off the wall or balls deposited into the bleachers. Basically, nothing off of an Aaron Judge highlight reel. I thought he looked pretty good. Small victory. He pitched into the sixth inning but was lifted after issuing that one walk. That’s strong work out of a fifth starter. Mike has for a while looked to me like a guy who is throwing more innings consistently than he has since he was in the minor leagues.

While Mike was doing some pretty solid work, a Padres starter who had no previous success in the major leagues as a starter was making quick work of the Cubs hitters. We have definitely seen at times that a guy hitting his spots well whom the Cubs have never seen before can be pretty dominant even if he wasn’t otherwise dominant. It was frustrating to watch, but it happens. Baseball is weird and stupid sometimes. That was a bit of a trap game for the Cubs. Everything on paper pointed the Cubs way, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. The good news is that there haven’t been more than one or two games all year where the bullpen allowed five runs less than four innings of work including all three relievers who were used being scored upon.

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 108, August 2 - Cubs bullpen falters while bats are silent in 6-1 loss (62-46)

Source: FanGraphs


  • Superhero - Mike Montgomery (.282). Mike threw 5⅓ innings, allowing seven hits, one walk and one run. He only struck out two. He certainly pitched well enough to win.
  • Hero - Addison Russell (.049). Addison had a hit in three at bats. The Cubs had just three hits, so that is certainly enough to get him up here.
  • Sidekick - Anthony Rizzo (.013). Ignoring Mike Montgomery as a hitter, there were only three Cubs with a positive WPA score yesterday. This was a group failure. Anthony did have one hit and was also hit by a pitch in four plate appearances.


  • Billy Goat - Jesse Chavez (-.391). If you were the aspiring writer out there getting ready to write the story of Jesse Chavez’ perfect season after be traded to the Cubs, you can stop writing. It was probably unlikely that a guy most of us had never heard of was going to stay perfect. It’s unfortunate that his first real mistake ended up in a three-run home-run in a game he was only handed a one run lead.
  • Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.096). July 1 to present, Albert has 81 plate appearances. In those plate appearances he has a line of .208/.238/.260 He’s struck out 16 times and grounded into two double plays. He was hitless in four at bats yesterday and also made a throw to the plate that was nowhere near the plate. Albert is in an extended funk and should not be batting in the top third of the order as he has so often lately.
  • Kid - Javier Baez (-.090). Javy has covered for an awful lot of mediocre games for the Cubs by being other-worldly this year. Last night was not one of those. He was hitless in four at bats and struck out once on a borderline called third strike.

WPA Play of the Game: With one out in the sixth inning and the Cubs leading 1-0, Mike Montgomery walked Eric Hosmer. Joe Maddon summoned Jesse Chavez. Christian Villanueva greeted him with a single and that brought Austin Hedges to the plate. Hedges smashed a three-run homer on a night when the ball wasn’t carrying really well. (.311)

*Cubs Play of the Game: After retiring the lead-off hitter in the fifth inning, Mike Montgomery allowed back to back singles. Wil Myers stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. (.116)

Cumulative Standings:

  • Superhero - Javier Baez 29.5
  • Hero - Ben Zobrist 16
  • Sidekick - Brandon Morrow 13

Up Next: Game two of the four game set between these two teams. A little bit of history for the Cubs when Jose Quintana takes the mound. It will be the first time in more than 50 years that the Cubs have had four consecutive games started by left handed pitchers. Barring unforeseen circumstances it should happen several times this month.

Jose is 9-7 with a 4.26 ERA on the season. In his last seven starts he is 3-3 with a 4.58 ERA. Those numbers are heavily influenced by his last start when he lasted just three innings in a loss in St. Louis. He allowed six hits, three walks and six runs while only striking out two. Jose has not faced the Padres as a member of the Cubs, but did face them once last year before joining the Cubs. in that start, he threw seven innings and allowed five hits, four walks and three runs while striking out five. He did not factor in the decision.

Tyson Ross will be the opposition. Tyson is 6-8 with a 4.41 ERA. His season has been going in the wrong direction as he is 1-4 with a 6.44 ERA over his last seven starts. He allowed 15 runs over the plan of two starts and seven innings at the start of July against the Pirates and Diamondbacks that is a huge part of those numbers. Last time out he faced the Diamondbacks again and threw five innings and allowed six hits, four walks and four runs. He does have a win against the Phillies in Philadelphia and a strong start against the Dodgers that he lost anyway in the last few weeks, so he’s certainly still capable of some good starts. He hasn’t started a game against the Cubs since 2015 as he just hasn’t been healthy. Let’s hope the Cubs can continue his recent woes.


Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Mike Montgomery
    (56 votes)
  • 2%
    Addison Russell
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Anthony Rizzo
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    None of the Above
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    (2 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now