I root a lot for the guys who aren’t necessarily the biggest stars on the team. The Cubs win largely because of the excellence and production of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Cole Hamels. They get a lot of support from the core bullpen members (or at least they did until all of those guys became either hurt or worn out). So today, I’m going to be a little bit chipper while writing.
The Cubs three Heroes of the day will consist of a guy who I know more Cub fans than not cringe when he’s in the lineup, but I’ve seen discussions with him off the playoff roster. Not just off the playoff roster as in, the roster is pretty locked up and it’s a close decision, but as in he’s definitely off and not even in the discussion. On the second step will be a pitcher who no one understood why they even acquired him. It hasn’t always been pretty, but this guy has thrown 17 innings as a Cub allowing 12 hits, four runs (three earned) and walked five while striking out 14. That’s good for a 1.59 ERA (2.39 FIP). On the final step will be another pitcher who no one understood why the Cubs picked him up. I’m relatively certain a good portion of the Cubs fandom decided Joe was punting the game when he started getting loose.
Alas, here we are this morning. Those three guys aren’t in those spots because the Cubs got trashed 10-1 and they are the top three guys. Those three accounted for the game winning home run, a perfect eighth inning and the save to close out the game. That’ll gloss over Dillon Maples who got the win after retiring the only batter he faced. I said it the other day, the Cubs just have to make the most of what they are going through. Quit pouting and use the roster. The relievers are gassed. The hitters are gassed. So the Cubs pushed Cole Hamels a small handful of batters longer than they probably would have a month ago. They used three relievers who are far from baked at this point in time. They’ll have to keep balancing playing time for their key hitters as well. But they scored a second straight win and the magic number strikes 14 with 15 to play. Lots of work still to be done.
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 147, September 14 - Cubs come from behind for second straight win, 3-2. (86-61)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Ian Happ (.376). Ian had just one hit yesterday. But he didn’t strike out, so baby steps. He also hit a monster three-run home-run. Spoiler alert, we’ll be talking just a little bit more about that below.
- Hero - Jorge De La Rosa (.168). The Cubs’ last six outs last night came from pitchers they picked up off of the street after their former teams had let them go. I spent some time in Philadelphia this week and I explained to the baseball fans I was talking with there that the thing about Theo Epstein and the front office is that they are never content. They are always looking for a way to make the team at least marginally better. I’ve watched most of Jorge’s innings, I know a number of them have been highlighted by line drives that went right at a fielder. I have no delusions that he is a lock-down pitcher. He’s been effective.
- Sidekick - Jaime Garcia (.123). Jamie’s first inning of relief for the Cubs was a perfect one. He struck out a batter. I suspect Jorge has either already pitched himself onto the post season roster or is very close to it. Jamie will be trying to do the same. I’m not sure there’s enough time, but with a lot of injury questions, there is an opportunity out there to be grabbed.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Daniel Murphy (-.091). I thought it was laughable that Murphy would be back with the Cubs even before his slump. He just doesn’t fit with this team. That said, Daniel is a professional hitter, and a good one at that. Let’s hope he gets back into the groove he was in when he came over to the Cubs. When he’s on, he contributes heavily to the lineup. Daniel did draw one walk in four plate appearances yesterday. He also struck out.
- Goat - Anthony Rizzo (-.077). Anthony’s bat has tailed off. I’d be looking for a spot to get him a day off as scary as that looks right now. Pick the worst matchup and get him a day off. He was hitless in four at bats yesterday and struck out once.
- Kid - Tommy La Stella (-.062). Tommy hit into a fielder’s choice in the seventh inning for the first out. He did end up coming around to score on Happ’s homer.
WPA Play of the Game: Ian Happ came to the plate with runners at the corners and one out in the seventh inning and the Cubs down 2-0. (.433) His three-run home-run in that situation is the fifth biggest positive WPA event of the season. Such is the nature of this team that is the eighth above .400 event.
*Reds Play of the Game: In the fourth inning, David Bote batted with runners on first and second and no outs. The Cubs were losing 2-0 at the time and it looked like they might have a chance to get to Matt Harvey a little bit. David grounded sharply to second and the Reds turned a double play to derail the rally attempt. (.139)
- Superhero - Pedro Strop 22
- Hero - Javier Baez 20.5
- Sidekick - Cole Hamels 15.5
We’ve now learned that the Superhero of the Year award will be at least at 22 points as Pedro Strop’s regular season came to a close. Let’s hope weird baseball coincidences are a thing for the Cubs. The last time Pedro Strop suffered a late season injury, the Cubs won the World Series.
Up Next: Game two of the weekend series this afternoon. Jon Lester goes to the mound for the Cubs. Jon is 15-6 with a 3.57 ERA. Over his last seven starts he’s heading in the wrong direction, as he has for much of the second half, with a 3-2 record and a 4.74 ERA. Last time out he threw 5⅔ innings against the Brewers in a loss. He allowed eight hits, two walks and three runs while striking out seven. He’s thrown well in three of his last five after two clunkers at the start of August. This season he’s faced the Reds twice. He was very strong in a win in May in Cincinnati. In a July start at Wrigley he took a no decision after allowing four runs over 6⅓ innings. The Cubs are going to be again looking for something in the neighborhood of 21 outs from their starter and hope their bats can get something going.
The Reds start Cody Reed. Cody is 0-2 with a 5.08 ERA in 28⅓ innings of work. He’s made two starts this month and he’s thrown a total of nine inning and allowed nine runs. He hasn’t faced the Cubs since last April when the Cubs put seven runs on the board in two innings. The Cubs also faced in him in 2016 and scored eight and seven runs respectively against him in two four inning starts.
This is a guy the Cubs have historically crushed. They’ve struggled a lot against left handed starters lately because the right handed hitters in the Cubs lineup just haven’t been hitting. Cubs hitters have very small sample sizes against Reed with no hitter having even 10 plate appearances. However, as a team the Cubs have 64 plate appearances with a line of .352/.453/.796. That’s as comical a line as I’ve ever seen. Reed has hit two Cubs, intentionally walked one and allowed seven home runs. Included in those 64 plate appearances are four hitless at bats by Kyle Hendricks and one hit and one walk in nine plate appearances total between Cub lefties Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber and Daniel Murphy. This should be a game where the Cubs put some crooked numbers on the board.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Jorge De La Rosa