I think there is some chance the Cubs got caught looking ahead last night. On the last day of a 30 days at the ballpark stretch, the Cubs had a few good at bats here and there. And Cole Hamels did have a run of four scoreless innings between two very much not scoreless innings. But this one was ugly most of the way through. Kinda glad I went with American Horror Story and an early night and didn’t really watch.
So the stretch ends with an 18-11 record. The Cubs are 2½ games in first place with 10 to play. They finally get an off day and then it’ll be on to the next leg of this road trip. For that one, the team has to travel all the way to the south side of Chicago where they’ll visit something called Guaranteed Rate Field. At least that’s what I think it’s called. I try not to bash that sponsor too much as they advertise for the Cubs too. But I do wonder if someone thought that name was actually catchy.
I’d really love to talk about what happened on the field. But the Cubs had one hit. They did draw four walks, so there’s that. They allowed nine runs in just eight innings of work. There’s just nothing pretty about this one.
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 152, September 19 - Cubs snake-bitten in Arizona 9-0 (89-63)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Addison Russell (.043). This one wasn’t even close. Addison had both a single and a walk before the game got out of hand.
- Hero/Sidekick - James Norwood/Dillon Maples (.001). I suppose I could have broken this tie as two outs are better than one. But the two outs (Norwood) did come with a hit allowed and the one out (Maples) both ended the inning and game with a strikeout.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Cole Hamels (-.243). Cole threw six innings and allowed nine hits and seven runs. The long ball was a real problem. He allowed two of them, accounting for five runs. I suspect it will be really hard to hit balls out of Wrigley Field this October, so I’m choosing not to worry.
- Goat - Albert Almora Jr. (-.076). Albert was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Kris Bryant (-.059). Yeah, twice in a week Kris has struck out four times in a game. That’s not great. But he’s hit really well in-between. So once again I’m choosing not to worry.
WPA Play of the Game: Cole Hamels allowed singles to two of the first three hitters in the Diamondbacks lineup. That brought Christian Walker to the plate. Christian Walker hit a three-run homer. (.195)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Nick Ahmed fouled out with a runner on third and one out. (.034) Basically, there wasn’t any leverage after the Walker home run in this whole game. That’s a tip of the cap to the very effective DBacks pitching.
- Superhero - Javier Baez 23.5
- Hero - Pedro Strop 22
- Sidekick - Kyle Hendricks 14
Barring some player getting white hot over the last 10 games and streaking up the leader board over those final 10 games, then the race for the Superhero of the Year award is down to two players. And one of those players is unlikely to register any more points this year. So, if Baez can stay above Strop’s final number, it’s his to win. Third through 10th places are separated by only five points, so there will be plenty of jockeying possible for third place.
Up Next: First, the much needed day off. Even I feel like I need a day off. So I’ll next be writing a full piece on Saturday morning to recap the first game of the Chicago White Sox series. The Sox are 15-15 over their last thirty, so they’ve played better. However, they come into this series having lost seven of 10. They are 28-47 at home, so that’s not a particular advantage. They are just 14-24 against left handed starters. They’ll see three of those. The Cubs will set a record (I’m told) over the weekend for most games started by left handed pitching. That will happen when for a not insignificant portion of the season they were using four left handed starters.
On paper, this is a fairly even match-up, at least pitching-wise. Jose Quintana starts for the Cubs. He is 13-10 with a 3.95 ERA over 159⅓ innings of work. Over his last seven, he’s been better than that with a 3-2 record and a 2.97 ERA over 39⅓ innings of work. Last time out he didn’t pitch all that bad, but did allow two home runs and did pick up a loss. He threw five innings and allowed five hits, three walks and two runs. He struck out seven. Jose has never faced the White Sox who he of course spent the largest portion of his career with.
Reynaldo Lopez will start for the White Sox. He is 6-9 with a 4.05 ERA over 175⅔ innings of work. Over his last seven, he too has been better. He’s 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA. In his last four starts, he’s had three game scores in the 70’s and a 67. This guy is throwing very well. If you prefer an easier reference, he has allowed only two runs in his last 27 innings of work. The competition over that stretch? A mixed bag. He did face the Orioles last time out. But before that, he faced the Angles, Tigers and Yankees. He won the start against the Yankees and held the Angles to two hits while striking out 10. The only player on the Cubs who has ever faced Lopez at the big league level is the myth known as Bobby Wilson. This looks like a tough match-up other than the vast talent differential between the two lineups. But if Lopez throws six good innings against the Cubs, I’ll be prepared for another round of the sky falling and trying to get people back off of the ledge.
Was there a Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Should we give it to the bus driver and pilots who sped them home as quick as they could?
They played really, really bad last night