This April for the Cubs has a clearly developing theme. Not everything that you think you know is true. Jason Heyward, who has long been labelled as a lost cause offensively, continues to lead the team in OPS. Jose Quintana, who people were more and more disparaging the trade for, has now thrown 14 shutout innings over his last two starts. Brandon Kintzler, who many people were ready to drop in the offseason because he was wasting salary and roster space, has basically been the steadiest of the relievers.
Are the three of them going to be an MVP candidate, a Cy Young candidate and a reliever who cashes in as a free agent this offseason? Who knows? Baseball is funny that way. For the remaining five months of the season, those three could be terrible. Or, they could be three key pieces as the Cubs look to reach the post season for a fifth consecutive season.
Those three have been incredibly important this month. If it weren’t for the three of them, the Cubs 7-9 start might have been even worse. Jason Heyward is covering for slow starts offensively for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Jose Quintana is covering for an injured Jon Lester and a slow start for Kyle Hendricks. Brandon Kintzler has helped cover for an injured Brandon Morrow and ineffective Carl Edwards Jr.
To be sure, this Cubs season will be a failure if a good number of the people mentioned above as struggling or ineffective don’t return healthy and to form. But, for now, the Cubs are getting by thanks to strong performances like the one last night for Jose Quintana.
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 16, April 16: Cubs 4 at Marlins 0 (7-9)
- Superhero: Jose Quintana (.361). Jose threw seven innings allowing six hits, no walks and striking out seven.
- Hero: Daniel Descalso (.155). Daniel had a strong night at the plate, reaching base four times in five plate appearances. Hit hits included an RBI single that drove in the first run and a double.
- Sidekick: David Bote (.092). David reached base three times in four plate appearances. His day included a single, a double, a walk, two runs, and an RBI. Bote was someone I wasn’t sure what to expect from in 2019, but as of right now he has a .294/.385/.500 (wRC+ 131). The season is young, but we can lump him into the positive start club for sure.
- Billy Goat: Kris Bryant (-.133). Things continue to not click for KB. He was hitless in five at bats with a strikeout.
- Honorable Mention: Jose Quintana, hitter (-.106). Jose dazzled at the mound and fizzled at the plate. He was hitless in three at bats and struck out all three times.
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.048). The Cubs had nine hits, but only four different Cubs had hits. Rizzo was not one of them. He was hitless in four at bats and struck out once.
- Kid: Albert Almora Jr. (-.026). Albert drew two walks, one intentional and one unintentional. To start the season, Almora has a .213/.288/.213 (wRC+ 28) line over his first 53 plate appearances. Despite his walk rate being buoyed by a couple of intentional walks in the early going, he still is posting numbers 72% lower than an average hitter.
WPA Play of the Game: Daniel Descalso batted with two outs and a runner on second in the third inning. He came through with an RBI single to put the Cubs on the board. (.118)
*Marlins Play of the Game: Kris Bryant batted with a runner on second and no outs in the fifth. The Cubs were leading 2-0. Bryant hit a fly ball to right that was caught. Descalso was out trying to tag and go to third. (.072)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
(# = sent back to minors)
- Ben Zobrist 8.5
- Jason Heyward 8
- Javier Baez/Willson Contreras/Daniel Descalso 5
- Albert Almora Jr./Kyle Hendricks -6
- Kris Bryant/#Carl Edwards Jr. -8
Up Next: The Cubs will look to complete their three game sweep of the Marlins and win for the fifth time in six games. The Marlins will be looking to end a four game skid and avoid their ninth loss in 10 games. These are two teams heading in completely different directions right now.
Cole Hamels will be Cubs starter. Cole is 2-0 with a 3.79 ERA over 19 innings of work. He’s coming off of his best start of the year. In that one, he threw eight innings and allowed one run on four hits and didn’t walk anyone. Cole has only a 10-15 record against the Marlins in his career with a 3.45 ERA in 38 career starts. Cole is also five games under .500 against the Mets, making them his two worst opponents over his career. However, those numbers come from his earlier career with the Phillies. Martin Prado of the Marlins has 72 career plate appearances against Cole (.825 OPS). The entire rest of the Marlins team had a total of 54 plate appearances against him.
Sandy Alcantara is a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher. He is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA over 17 innings of work. Last time out, the Phillies knocked him around pretty good. He allowed 11 hits, two walks and six runs in just five innings of work. He did throw eight shutout innings against the Rockies in his first start back in March though. Sandy has two relief appearances against the Cubs. He pitched 1⅔ innings and allowed three hits, a walk and two unearned runs. Accordingly, current Cubs have a total of six plate appearances against him (seven if you include Ian Happ who is still at Iowa).
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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