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2019 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 20

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Cubs get strong pitching early, blow lead, win anyway

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I learned early last year that Tyler Chatwood pitching raised my blood pressure. So, when he was scheduled to pitch, I usually found something else to do. Given the holiday, I had no trouble doing that for his first start this year. This time around, I appear to have missed a real gem. Tyler Chatwood continued the really strong stretch of pitching the Cubs have had running. We’ll get more into this in my next piece, but over their last 12 games, the Cubs have allowed 26 runs — just over two runs per game. On top of that, three games produced 17 of the runs.

My only sadness about Sunday’s game is that Pedro Strop was tagged for a home run in the ninth inning. Since the Cubs had only managed one run, Tyler doesn’t notch a victory for his performance. The personal win would have been the cherry on top for Tyler, who surely enjoyed the win and his dominant performance just the same. This game was a reminder of what Tyler can do.

I included a paragraph yesterday that said this:

Our collective negative energy probably plays no role whatsoever in the struggles of Chatwood and Darvish. But it certainly can’t help that every time one of them goes to the mound there is a collective ire and apprehension that is palpable. We all know, those two guys have underwhelmed. But the final chapter hasn’t been written for either, so let’s just watch it play out.

Today, I’ll just circle back on this point. Jason Heyward has fallen into this group historically. And Brandon Morrow will when he comes back too. I get it. I understand why people get frustrated about these guys. This organization talked about not paying guys for past success. And this quartet (and surely I’m missing others) have largely been paid for past success and not a whole lot for things they’ve done for the Cubs. But all of them are supremely talented. All of them appear to be working very hard. And the final chapter hasn’t been written yet. At minimum, let’s at least be ready to get behind each of them if and when they do get it together.

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 20, April 21: Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 1 (10-10)


Source: FanGraphs

THREE HEROES:

  • Superhero: Javier Baez (.470). Javier Baez may not have a classic approach to hitting. But he just keeps hitting. On Sunday, he had a double, a triple, an RBI, a run scored and a walk in four plate appearances. His recent hot stretch has him up to a .302/.333/.605 (142 wRC+) line. His numbers are buoyed by an enormous .377 BABIP. That said, he did have a .402 stretch for 313 plate appearances in Triple-A in 2015. He’s come in the last three seasons at .336/.345/.347, so it isn’t actually that out of line. Javy has an unusual skill set of both striking the ball extremely hard and being a fast, aggressive base-runner that makes him hard to defend.
  • Hero: Tyler Chatwood (.349). Six shutout innings, two hits, two walks, three strikeouts. Fantastic work.
  • Sidekick: Steve Cishek (.118). Steve threw a perfect eighth inning.

THREE GOATS:

  • Billy Goat: Pedro Strop (-.209). One bad pitch, one blown save. Pedro did strikeout two of the four batters he faced.
  • Goat: Willson Contreras (-.111). There were only nine hits between the two teams, so there was a whole lot of nothing going on in this one. Contreras batted with runners on first and second two outs, a man on second with one out, and a runner on third with two outs. He was retired each time.
  • Kid: Albert Almora Jr. (-.082). The slump continues. Albert is down to .196/.268/.196 in 57 plate appearances.

WPA Play of the Game: Pedro Strop retired the first batter he faced in the ninth, protecting a 1-0 lead. The second launched a game-tying homer. (.356)

*Cubs Play of the Game: Javier Baez doubled and then went to third on an error by Adam Jones to start the Cubs ninth inning. (.299)

Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:

(# = returned to minors)

  • Jason Heyward/Daniel Descalso/Javier Baez 6
  • Albert Almora Jr. -7
  • Yu Darvish/#Carl Edwards -8

Up Next: The red-hot Dodgers come to town. They’ve built a 2 12 game lead in the division on the strength of a 15-9 start. They’ve won seven of 10. Of course the Cubs have also won seven of 10. So two of the best teams in baseball over the last four plus years are starting to do their thing.

The Cubs will have Jose Quintana on the mound. He is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 21 innings of work on the year. Jose has thrown 14 shutout innings over his last two starts and he’ll be looking to keep that going. He’s faced the Dodgers three times in regular season games. In those starts, he’s held the Dodgers to a collective .641 OPS. Still, he’s never beaten them. He’s 0-1 despite a sparkling 1.40 ERA in 19⅓ innings of work.

Kenta Maeda will start for the Dodgers. He is 3-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 23⅔ innings of work. Maeda threw 6⅔ innings allowing one run on three hits and four walks in a win over the Reds in his last start. Kenta allows a .615 OPS to right handed hitters and a .771 to lefties in his career. He’s stifled the Cubs in two career starts. Holding the team to a .542 OPS. He’s 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA over those two starts. Let’s hope the third time is a charm.

Poll

Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Javier Baez
    (62 votes)
  • 67%
    Tyler Chatwood
    (148 votes)
  • 0%
    Steve Cishek
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Anthony Rizzo (first two hit game in three weeks)
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Other
    (7 votes)
218 votes total Vote Now