The Cubs almost managed a heroless game. Ok, let’s be clear. There are no heroes when your team loses 9-0. What’s that? The Cubs scored four in the ninth? Um. Ok. Whatever. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make any noise? Seriously, people weren’t actually still watching that ninth inning were they?
This Cubs season is six games old and already it is getting tough to talk about. This was the first game I mostly missed. I’m on a business trip and was in meeting until about the time the game went completely off of the rails. Then, since it was already off the rails, I didn’t really watch much of the rest.
Between Twitter and CBS Sports, I’m vaguely aware that Yu was better, but Joe wanted to let him leave on a little bit of a high note or something. Yu was pulled very early and with the Cubs in a jam. Carl Edwards Jr. was called on and he threw some gasoline on a fire that was already much more than a spark. The bullpen continued its week-plus immolation, centered around a walk everybody strategy.
While all of this was going on, someone called Max Fried was throwing five perfect innings to start the game. I believe the requisite misadventures of Mark Zagunis in the outfield continued. But, Mark had two more hits as well. When the team only had five of them, that was somewhat significant. The bat plays, the glove doesn’t. Good luck with that decision.
I keep seeing people post to Twitter that this can’t get worse. People, please stop saying that. The Cubs haven’t been to Milwaukee yet, this doesn’t have to be rock bottom yet. That said, this team cannot, will not lose 100 games. It will turn.
That’s all I have to say about this game. I was raised not to say anything if you have nothing nice to say.
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 6, April 4: Cubs 4 at Braves 9 (1-5)
- Superhero: Ben Zobrist (.003). If you wondered what it would look like for a game to have no players with a positive WPA, watch the first eight innings of last night’s Cubs game. The Cubs entered the ninth inning without a single player at or above .000. Ben Zobrist walked to load the bases with one out in the ninth (.007) to move into positive territory. This was Ben’s only time on base in three plate appearances.
- Hero: Victor Caratini (.001). Victor singled with one out in the ninth and the bases empty. The Cubs were trailing 9-3 after a pair of Cubs homers earlier in the inning.
- Sidekick: Mike Montgomery (-.003). This may well be the worst pitching line I’ve ever seen on the hero side. Mike threw two innings and allowed five hits and three runs.
- Billy Goat: Carl Edwards Jr. (-.118). Carl faced two batters, walked them both, threw a wild pitch, allowed an inherited runner to score and had two runs of his own score.
- Goat: Tyler Chatwood (-.063). Tyler threw two innings, allowed three hits and a run. Of course he also inherited a bases loaded no outs jam and allowed all three runners to score. But, Tyler Chatwood didn’t issue any walks. That’s something.
- Kid: Albert Almora Jr. (-.060). I’m breaking a tie here as Javier Baez also had the same WPA. I’m more willing to just let a tie exist than I used to be, but Baez did hit a home run. At the end of the day, he gave the Cubs a better chance to win, however slight. Albert occupied the lead-off spot again as he has been doing against left handed pitchers. He was hitless in five at bats. I did go and look out of curiosity. Albert has a career .319/.350/.409 leading off.
WPA Play of the Game: Brian McCann batted with one out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning. The score was still 0-0 at the time. McCann singled, scoring a run and once again placing runners on the corner. (.118)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Ozzie Albies was credited with a caught stealing of home immediately following the McCann single. (.088)
Cumulative Standings Top 3/Bottom 3:
- Javier Baez 5
- Willson Contreras 5
- Ben Zobrist 5
- Kyle Hendricks -3
- Randy Rosario -3
- Albert Almora Jr. -4
- Carl Edwards Jr. -6
Up Next: Now that spring training has ended, the Cubs start the regular season with a three game set in Milwaukee. That has to have been what they describe as extended spring training right?!?
The 1-5 Cubs travel to play the 6-1 Brewers. The Brewers most recently swept the Reds in a three game set and have now won five straight games, with the last four of them being one run wins. The Cubs have lost five games in the standings since last Saturday.
Jose Quintana will be on the mound. He is making his first start of the year after a four inning relief outing in Texas opening weekend. Last year he was 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA. Over his last five starts he is 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA. Five of the 10 runs he allowed over that stretch came in one start last August. Current Brewers have a line of 222/.260/.333 over 306 plate appearances. On so many levels and in so many ways, this is a game the Cubs need to win.
Brandon Woodruff is the opposing pitcher. Brandon is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA from his first start of the year. Last year, he was 3-0 with a 3.61 ERA over 42⅓ innings of work. He was also 3-2 with a 4.04 ERA over 17 starts and 71⅓ innings at Triple-A. The Cubs only have a total of 41 plate appearances against the 26-year-old right hander and have a batting line of .265/.390/.382 that includes a Daniel Descalso home run. None of the Cubs has more than six plate appearances against Woodruff.
Who was the Cubs Billy Goat of the Game?
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Theo and the front office