Friday started with the Addison Russell news. After that news, I had just a horrible day at work and towards the end of that, the Cubs served up a dose of lousy baseball. They got pounded 10-4. The cherry on top was a Brewers win and the Cubs magic number remains stuck at eight and now there are only nine games remaining. Objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than you are comfortable with.
The good news is that the Cubs can turn the page and today is a new day. They are still very much in the driver’s seat. They just need to take care of their own business. We’ll have a look ahead at the game for the Cubs at the end of this as usual, but before we can do that we have to look back at the carnage from yesterday.
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 153, September 20 - Cubs mauled on the South Side 10-4 (89-64)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Daniel Murphy (.053). The Cubs need Daniel Murphy to be a key contributor offensively if they are going to get very far. Yesterday he was outstanding at the plate with three hits in five at bats including a solo home run to start the game. He scored two runs.
- Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.042). Anthony had two hits in three at bats before being lifted from the game.
- Sidekick - Ben Zobrist (.016). Um, yeah. One walk in four plate appearances is enough to land up here. Well, that and reaching on an error in the fourth inning.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Jose Quintana (-.224). When Jose mowed down the first three White Sox hitters, I had visions of him blowing them away. Alas, that’s not the way it went. Jose ended up allowing nine hits, and five runs in five innings. He did strike out eight and didn’t walk anyone.
- Goat - Javier Baez (-.083). Javy was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
- Kid - Victor Caratini (-.073). Vic reached base once on a walk in four plate appearances. The big difference between his and Ben’s day is that Ben reached on an error in the fourth and Vic made the last out of that inning with runners on first and second.
WPA Play of the Game: Not much doubt about this one. Kevan Smith batted with runners on first and second and no outs in the second inning. He hit a three-run home-run to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. (.203).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Daniel Murphy’s homer leading off the game. (.097)
- Superhero - Pedro Strop 22
- Hero - Javier Baez 21.5
- Sidekick - Kyle Hendricks 14
- 4th - Ben Zobrist 13.5
- 5th/6th - Jon Lester/Brandon Morrow 13
Up Next: Game two of the three game series between these two teams. With nine games to go, my brain has decided that this is the baseball equivalent of heading to the ninth inning with a one run lead. You send your closer to the mound to protect your lead. Your mileage may vary, but if I were coaching this team, today I’d be sending out the lineup that I’d be hoping to send out for game seven of the World Series should I get there. You’ve already got Jon Lester on the mound, a veteran of many deep playoff runs. A perfect guy to have on the mound. Surround him with your best nine and go get it done. Never let the Brewers get closer than they are right now.
Jon Lester is 16-6 with a 3.43 ERA. He’s rounded back into form of late and is 4-2 with a 3.38 ERA over his last seven starts. Last time out he was fantastic over seven shutout innings against the Reds. He allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out nine. After throwing 108 pitches last time, he was given an extra day before this start. Jon faced and beat the White Sox in May in a 5⅔ inning performance. He allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five. He also faced them one last year and beat them then with seven innings of two runs allowed. Jon should be the right person to get the Cubs in gear and back moving in the right direction.
Lucas Giolito is the White Sox starter. He is 10-11 with a 5.77 ERA. There are two different things to see in that number. Yes, a 5.77 ERA is pretty bad. But he’s won 10 games on this White Sox team. They are far from an offensive juggernaut, so know that he pitches some good games between all of the bad ones. Over his last seven, he’s shown some signs of improvement with a 3-2 record and a 4.31 ERA. I imagine for the White Sox, that’s a promising sign given that this is his first full season at the MLB level. He did throw 174 innings across two levels last year, so his 165⅓ inning load at the MLB level shouldn’t be alarming to Sox fans.
Lucas is 3-2 with a 4.31 ERA over his last seven starts. Last time out he was knocked around a bit by the Baltimore Orioles of all people. He allowed six runs (four earned) over six innings. The start before that was against the Royals and he allowed three runs in seven innings and the start before that he allowed five runs (four earned) to the Tigers in just a 1 1⁄3 innings outing. So September has been rough on Lucas after a couple of single run starts to end August including one against the Red Sox. Lucas did start and win against the Cubs in May. He threw 5⅔ innings and allowed only two hits. He did walk seven and strike out three. He allowed three runs, a very Tyler Chatwood outing. No Cubs has more than three plate appearances against Lucas, so you just run your best lineup out there for the most part. His splits skew a little heavily towards lefties, so maybe a few extra left handed hitters in the lineup.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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