This is the day that I have to set expectations. First, a few weeks ago I made a comment. That comment hasn’t changed for me. If the Cubs win 95-ish games and do not win the National League Central, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. If you read my comments, you’ll know that I advocate a tip of the cap. A player or team with exceptional performance should receive a tip of the cap and not ire. The Cubs won their 94th game Friday. I’m not going to be one of the cranky people if things unravel over the weekend. I won’t think less of you if you are one of those who is upset. I get it, this is a special team. Obviously, the off-season acquisitions of Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow failed spectacularly in their own ways. So I see why some might be frustrated.
The second expectation that I’m going to set is that I believe the Cubs will win the National League Central. I predicted before the season, and then frequently doubled down through the season, that the Cubs would win 97 games and win the Central by five or more games. So yeah, I was certainly wrong on those predictions. I’m so glad none of you would ever use any of my predictions for sports gambling. I can’t advocate that kind of behavior. Still, the Cubs 95th victory of the season will guarantee them at least a one-game playoff for the division. Yeah, that wouldn’t be ideal, but sometimes you get what you get. All awesomeness of Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers aside, I believe the Cubs will win a one-game home playoff with Jose Quintana on the mound.
My final expectation is that the aforementioned Yelich will be the NL MVP. Make no mistake, Javier Baez had an MVP caliber season. The same way that Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer had seasons that are surely worthy of Cy Young in the right season. This isn’t that season. Sometimes, another guy was better. In case you haven’t been following along in the comments section, I will indeed be releasing the Heroes and Goats MVP vote. At least as it relates to Baez versus Yelich. Sorry anyone else who has an argument. Surely, Nolan Arenado or someone has to be responsible for the fantastic run the Rockies have had down the stretch. But I have time constraints. But I’m half way through the Brewers season and will finish that some time next week. So Heroes and Goats will weigh in on this very close race. And then I’ll sit back like you and hope that Baez gets the award. We all know the right guy doesn’t always win. Baez definitely had a great season and there is no doubt that some voters will prefer his performance largely as a middle infielder.
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 160, September 28 - Cubs win third straight with 8-4 win over Cardinals (94-66)
THE THREE HEROES:
- Superhero - Kyle Hendricks (.304). Kyle threw eight innings, bringing him to a career-high 199 innings. He also made his career-high 33rd start. If only Joe believed in and trusted him... Kyle allowed seven hits, two walks and two runs. He struck out only two. But he got the job done.
- Hero - Anthony Rizzo (.103). Anthony was the hitting star for the Cubs. Anthony had an RBI single and a sacrifice fly in four plate appearances.
- Sidekick - Daniel Murphy (.044). Daniel had two hits, including a double and a sacrifice fly on the day in four plate appearances.
THE THREE GOATS:
- Billy Goat - Javier Baez (-.066). It was a rough day at the plate for Javy with three strikeouts in four at bats.
- Goat - Willson Contreras (-.049). Willson was hitless in four at bats. He did reach once on an error, but the struggles continue.
- Kid - Tommy La Stella (.001). The positive goat makes an appearance after Kyle Hendricks’ hitting is moved out. Tommy actually walked and scored a run, but he gets caught up as an innocent bystander.
WPA Play of the Game: Anthony Rizzo had an RBI single with runners on first and second and no outs in the first inning, driving in the first run of the game. (.113)
*Cardinals Play of the Game: Marcell Ozuna batted with a runner on second and two outs in the sixth inning with the Cubs leading 4-1. He delivered an RBI single. (.069)
- Superhero - Pedro Strop 22
- Hero - Kyle Hendricks 20
- Sidekick - Javier Baez 19.5
- 4th - Jon Lester 16
- 5th - Anthony Rizzo 14
Javy drops down to third. With the two above him being done for the season, Javy now needs +3 over the final two games to win the Superhero of the Year. On the other end of the spectrum, Willson Contreras has fallen into a tie with Addison Russell for last place at -42.
Up Next: Game two of the three game set between the two teams. The Cubs will send Cole Hamels to the mound. He will get one final chance at winning a 10th game on the season. He is 9-11 with a 3.87 ERA on the year. Over his last seven starts, he is 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA. So his results have been a bit better than his full season results, but he’s now gone six starts without a win. In his last start, he went six innings in a loss to the Pirates. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, two walks and struck out seven. Cole hasn’t started a game against the St. Louis Cardinals since 2016. He won that game and also won his only start against them in 2015. Those results aren’t very meaningful, but hopefully that will continue. The Cardinals have only nine players on their roster who have ever faced Cole and they total 117 plate appearances. 65 of those are by Yadier Molina and Marcell Ozuna.
Miles Mikolas will be the Cardinals starter. Miles is 17-4 with a 2.94 ERA. He will try to match Max Scherzer and Jon Lester at 18 wins. He is finishing strong with a 5-1 record and a 3.27 ERA over his last seven starts. Last time out, he threw seven innings in a win against the Giants. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and no walks. He struck out eight. Miles has faced the Cubs three times this season and is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. The Cubs hitters have a total of 81 plate appearances against him this year. He’s held them collectively to a .616 OPS. So the Cubs hitters will have their work cut out for them.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed