The Cubs pitching held up a bit better on Sunday, but it just wasn’t enough. The Brewers jumped out to a 4-0 lead and the Cubs could only manage two runs. The bullpen finally threw four scoreless innings (in the same game). Unfortunately, Kyle Hendricks allowed four runs in four innings. The Cubs bats that have been fantastic through most of the road trip came up largely empty as Zach Davies in the beginning and Josh Hader were just too good on this day.
And so it is, that the Cubs come home at 2-7. Rationalization alert: The Cubs opened the season with a three-city, 11-day, nine-game road-trip. That road trip saw them face two 2018 National League division champions. Any realistic projection would call for the Cubs to have won four of six against those two teams. Sure, this team regularly exceeds expectations. So five or even six wins wouldn’t be historically crazy. But four would have been a reasonable expectation. Through that lens, two wins isn’t catastrophic.
It was, of course, depressing and frustrating. It was hard to hear from so many fans and experts alike that the bullpen wasn’t good enough and then watch the bullpen choke away a couple of games. It was tough to watch a usually dependable defense unravel in one game and post six errors and allow six unearned runs. And it was tough to watch the team lose two different games in which they scored 10 runs (96% of teams won last year when they scored 10 or more runs).
The Cubs now head home. Hopefully the Cubs can quickly establish a home field advantage. 22 of the next 30 games are at Wrigley Field. So the Cubs do have a chance to right this ship very quickly.
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 9, April 7: Cubs 2 at Brewers 4 (2-7)
- Superhero: Ben Zobrist (.131). Because I’m a greedy guy, I’m just the slightest bit nervous about Ben Zobrist’s start. He had three more hits today in four at bats. But he’s not driving the ball at all. He’s yet to record an extra base hit this year. Yeah, wrong day to note this, he had half of the Cubs’ six hits.
- Hero: Allen Webster (.033). Allen came in with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh. He got a strikeout to keep the game at 4-2. He then pitched a scoreless eighth. The only runner he allowed was an intentional walk to Christian Yelich, which was the easiest decision ever with the reigning MVP at the plate and the dominant Brewers closer on deck
- Sidekick: Javier Baez (.030). Javy had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.207). Every April Kyle struggles. He doesn’t come out of spring training with full command of his sinker. His fastball is a couple of ticks slow. By early May, some people will be wondering if he’s finally turned back into a pumpkin. Sometime around August, people will proclaim him the undoubted ace of the Cubs. Rinse and repeat. Kyle had a Yelich problem on Sunday. Kyle threw four innings, allowed four runs on eight hits. He only walked one and struck out four. Yelich drove in three of the four runs and moved the other runner up with a single, including two on a first inning homer.
- Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.185). Kyle was hitless in four at bats. Most critically, he grounded into a double play in the sixth inning with runners on first and second and no outs.
- Kid: Kris Bryant (-.121). Kris is in a bit of a funk. He had one hit in four at bats. But he’s not really making any solid contact right now.
WPA Play of the Game: For the second time in his two starts, Kyle is the victim of the WPA Play of the Game. This one didn’t take long to get to. Christian Yelich hit a two-run first inning home run. (.153)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Willson Contreras hit a two-run homer of his own in the sixth inning with two outs and a runner on third. (.098)
Cumulative Standings Top 3/Bottom 3:
(# = Sent to minors)
- Willson Contreras 8
- Ben Zobrist 8
- Javier Baez 5
- Four tied with -3
- Kyle Hendricks -6
- #Carl Edwards Jr. -8
Up Next: The Cubs finally return home and they’ll open a three game set on Monday. This is one of the split series with an off day on Tuesday that we usually see for a team’s home opener. The Cubs will send Jon Lester to the hill. Jon will be making his third start of the year. Jon is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings of work in his first two starts. He pitched six innings and allowed two runs in each. In 18 lifetime starts against the Pirates, he is 9-5 with a 3.18 ERA. He’s held Pirates hitters to a .261/.332/.421.
He’ll be opposed by Jameson Taillon. Taillon has also made two starts, is 0-1, and has a 3.46 ERA over 13 innings of work. The Cubs have seen the 26-year-old right hander 8 times. In those starts, Taillon is 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA. The Cubs have managed a .294/.357/.497 line that seems like it would amount to more than an opposing ERA of 3.88.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
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