Welcome back, Mike Montgomery! Mike got into his first game today after Yu Darvish had a weird outing. Yu’s line: 4 IP, 1 H, 1R, 6 BB, 7 K. All of the walks and strikeouts elevated Yu’s pitch count and thus even with a lead, he was done after four. The Cubs turned to Mike Montgomery who had been stretched out as a starter in his time in the minors. Mike then pitched the final five innings to close out what was ultimately a 4-1 win for the Cubs.
I can’t say this often enough or clearly enough. Today the Cubs don’t have a closer issue. They won again, they didn’t get a save again. Had there been some dominant closer down there, might they have used him with a three run lead and picked up a save in the ninth? I guess. But Monty was able to close it out and save the other seven members of the pen to be ready to go over the weekend against the Brewers who are presently sitting in second place in the National League Central.
Sure, the Cubs will eventually need a solidified and preferably dominant closer. Sure, in a vacuum, they’d be better with one on the team right now. They’d probably also be better with a sure-fire lead-off man. It would be great to have a speedster who could steal a base in a pinch. But it is hard within the confines of a 25-man roster to have everything that might be useful. There are also payroll and acquisition cost considerations to adding a dominant reliever.
The Cubs have made the playoffs four straight season. Four straight seasons the Cubs have added relievers to the mix during trade season. I will confidently say that they’ll stretch both of those streaks to five years in 2019. This team is built to win and it has won 22 of its first 35 games. That’s not too shabby. Part of the reason I thought this team would win 97 games is that I believe it will be a better team on August 1 than April 1. At the same time, part of the reason I thought they’d win that many games was because they had a very good team on April 1, despite what the win/loss record said at the time.
Right now, this team is on pace to win 102 games. Of course, they have played 20% of their first 35 games against the woeful Marlins. They will play them 0% of their last 127 games of the season. How good are the Reds? Almost 15% of the remaining schedule will be played against them. I imagine those games will have a fair amount to say about how many games this team does eventually win.
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 35, May 9: Cubs 4, Marlins 1 (22-13)
- Superhero: Mike Montgomery (.230). Five innings out of the pen for Mike saves the other seven relievers ahead of a big series. He allowed three hits and two walks while striking out three.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.155). Rizzo hit his 200th Cub home run in this one. A two-run shot. He had two hits, two RBI, and a run scored in four at bats.
- Kid: Kris Bryant (.117). When Bryzzo are both contributing, the Cubs become a really scary opponent. Kris had a solo homer, two walks, and two runs scored in four plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.053). David was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice. As I pointed out yesterday, Bote has fallen into a pretty tough slump since his two homer game in Arizona. Hopefully he bounces back soon. Surely, with Addison Russell on the team, he’ll pick up an extra day off or two this week.
- Goat: Jason Heyward (-.039). JHey had one hit in four at bats.
- Kid: Daniel Descalso (-.022). This was a throwback game for the Cubs. They used only 11 players in this win. Daniel was the lone pinch-hitter. He was retired in his only at bat.
WPA Play of the Game: Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer in the fifth inning with Kris Bryant along for the ride. The home run came with one out and extended the Cubs 2-1 lead to 4-1. (.167)
*Marlins Play of the Game: Rosell Herrera got the lone hit off of Yu Darvish. It was an RBI-single with two outs in the fourth. (.097)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 9
- Jon Lester/Jose Quintana 7
- David Bote/Carl Edward Jr. -8
- Yu Darvish -9
- Albert Almora Jr. -12.5
Up Next: The Cubs welcome the Brewers to town. The Brewers have recovered from a dry spell and are sizzling hot once again. They’ve won eight of 10 including six straight. They just came off of a 10 game homestand that finished with sweeps of the Mets and Nationals. They are 16-8 at home and 7-8 on the road. Of course the Cubs are looking for a fourth straight win and have won nine of 10. The Cubs are 13-5 on the season at home.
In the first game of the series, Jose Quintana heads to the mound. Jose is 4-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 39⅔ innings on the year. He’s coming off of a pretty good start against the Cardinals. In that one he got the win, throwing six innings and allowing eight hits, two walks and two runs. Jose has been known as a Brewers-killer for some time. Interestingly, in 2019 he has but one bad start. It was against the Brewers in his first start of the year. Jose was rocked for eight runs in just three innings and they hit three home runs against him. Despite that awful start, Jose is 6-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 75⅓ innings of work across 12 starts versus the Brewers. The Brewers have 325 career plate appearances against Q. Lorenzo Cain has the most at 89 (.743) OPS followed by Mike Moustakas (54, .776). Moustakas and Ryan Braun have each hit three homer runs off of Jose.
The Brewers will send lefty Gio Gonzalez to the hill. Gio has made only two starts on the season after having been released without reaching the Majors by the Yankees. Both of his starts are against the Mets. In those two starts, he threw a total of 10⅓ innings with a 2.61 ERA. He hasn’t had a decision yet this season. He hasn’t made a regular season start versus the Cubs since 2017. In that one, he got a loss despite only allowing two hits and one run in six innings. He did walk five and strike out eight. The Cubs have 149 plate appearances against Gio. Kris Bryant has hit him very well (1.018 in 16 PA) and in a tiny seven PA, Willson Contreras has two home runs and three walks. Jason Heyward (41, .475) and Anthony Rizzo (28, .409) have seen him the most and have a whole lot of struggles. In his career, Gio has a .693 OPS allowed to righties and a .645 to lefties. Last year that was even more pronounced (.766 righties and .597 lefties).
It’s always a tough one when the Cubs and Brewers square off. Let’s hope the Cubs can stay red hot at home.
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