Sometimes baseball goes exactly to form. Jose Quintana had a nice little run in April to help settle the Cubs pitching staff into 2019. But since then, he’s been much more middle of the road. Most nights, middle of the road is plenty of good for this Cubs team. But, they were facing young Luis Castillo who is blossoming into a star before our eyes here so far in 2019.
The Cubs were able to grab two quick runs on him to give a ray of hope for this one. But this game was all Reds after that. Castillo and four relievers combined to shut the Cubs out for the other eight innings. The Cubs managed just two hits (and two base runners in total) after that first inning and those were both in the sixth inning. The Cubs also struck out 11 times in those final eight innings.
Baseball is a marathon. Part of what crowns the best teams is how deep your team is. The Cubs handled the loss of Victor Caraatini for a stretch (for whatever Taylor Davis’ skills are, the Cubs were 3-1 in his starts). The Cubs survived Jon Lester missing a few weeks. Tyler Chatwood made one very good start and the Cubs starters as a whole went on quite a run after the injury after a slow start to the season. The Cubs did okay after Daniel Descalso got banged up and Ben Zobrist had to leave the team for personal reasons, even if it meant bringing Addison Russell back sooner than the plan had called for.
The Cubs lineup has looked ordinary... or worse the last couple of nights without Anthony Rizzo in the lineup. This team isn’t deep enough to face a very good pitching staff (how weird is that to say about the Reds) playing this short. The Cubs did manage 10 runs in three games and that was good enough for one win.
Sooner or later this team was going to lose a series. Hopefully, they’ll bounce right back over the weekend. It’s frustrating. It certainly felt like this series was winnable. But the bullpen had been over achieving and so regression was obvious. The offense sputtered and couldn’t cover up for the struggles and back to back losses against the same team happened for the first time since April 3 and 4 in Atlanta in just the second series of the season. That’s an incredible run.
All you can hope for is to put together a team that is built to be strong over the totality of 162 games. This team is that. This team will be in it all of the way to the end, just like the last four Cubs seasons. It’s said often, but maybe never often enough. This is the golden era of Cubs baseball. Enjoy it. Finally we have a team that we expect to win every single night. So every loss stings.
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 42, May 16: Cubs 2 at Reds 4 (25-16)
- Superhero: Willson Contreras (.062). Willson had a two run double with a little assistance from the third base bag in the first inning. It was his only hit in four at bats.
- Hero: Javier Baez (.037). Javy was on base twice with a single and a double in four at bats. He scored a run.
- Sidekick: Xavier Cedeno (.014). His first appearance in Heroes and Goats is a positive one. He threw one scoreless inning allowing only one hit.
- Billy Goat: Jose Quintana (-.159). Jose had one bad inning, but that spoiled his start. He threw five innings and allowed six hits, one walks and three runs. He struck out four.
- Goat: Kyle Schwarber (-.101). Kyle was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
- Kid: Victor Caratini (-.078). Vic was hitless in three at bats and struck out twice.
WPA Play of the Game: The Reds fifth inning was like death by a hundred paper cuts, so the play of the game ends up being Willson’s first inning two-out double. (.167)
*Reds Play of the Game: Eugenio Suarez had a two out single with a runner on third in the fifth inning to give the Reds a 3-2 lead (.133).
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 11
- Jon Lester 8
- Javier Baez 7.5
- David Bote -9.5
- Carl Edwards Jr./Albert Almora Jr. -11
Up Next: The Cubs head to Washington to face old pal Dave Martinez and the Nationals. The Nationals are 18-25 on the season. They’ve only won four of 10 and seven of 20, but they just took two out of three from the Mets in Washington and before that they split a four game set in LA against the Dodgers. So they have righted the ship a little bit. The Cubs will be looking to snap a two game skid.
Cole Hamels gets the opener for the Cubs in a rematch from an epic Sunday Night Baseball game from last August (in Chicago). Cole is 3-0 with a 3.08 ERA in 49⅔ innings on the season. He hasn’t had a win though since April 17 and is riding a streak of four consecutive no decisions. The last time, he threw seven innings against the Brewers and allowed only one run in seven innings. He allowed three hits, three walks and struck out five. Last season he faced the Nationals twice. He didn’t receive a decision in either one. He threw a total of 12⅔ innings and allowed only four hits and four runs. Current Nationals have 239 plate appearances against him led by Ryan Zimmerman with 97 (.717 OPS).
Max Scherzer is the Nationals starter. Max is only 2-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 59⅓ innings on the year. He’s coming off of a win in Los Angeles in which he threw seven innings, allowed five hits, two walks and two runs. He struck out seven. Last year he faced the Cubs twice. He was 1-0 and allowed only three runs in 16 innings of work. Baseball is fun, he won the game in which he allowed three runs and didn’t win (and neither did his team) when he allowed zero. Current Cubs have 140 career at bats against Max, lead by Anthony Rizzo with 21 of them (.707 OPS).
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Other (please leave a suggestion in comments below)