Jon Lester and Aaron Nola hooked up in the final game of a four game set. Each team’s ace on the mound, a well played, hard fought series. The two teams had combined for just 26 runs in the first three games. Gotta be a pitcher’s duel, right? Well, not on a warm spring day with the wind blowing out and two talented offensive teams battling.
Nola survived the day better and ultimately, that probably made his team a winner. But the Cubs just kept scoring runs off of the Phillies relievers and ended up having a number of chances to tie this one up, despite the early 7-0 hole they had dug over the first three plus innings.
You can’t ever just take a pencil eraser to the game and take out the bad part and say that if that hadn’t happened, things would have been different. But that doesn’t mean we can’t wonder what might have happened had Willson Contreras not made an error in the fourth inning. When we use that pencil eraser, take away that error, record an out on that play. Then Andrew McCutchen grounds out to end the inning and three runs don’t score. How might this have played out differently if it had only been a 4-0 deficit? We can’t know. Surely both teams would have sequenced their substitutions and applied their strategies differently.
Certainly, this was a game the Cubs had plenty of chances in regardless. They had a ton of traffic on the bases all day and never really seemed to fully cash in on those opportunities. It’s important sometimes to remember that despite throwing the word urgency around, the team is never going to manage every game like it is a wild card game and throw everything but the kitchen sink at it. The Cubs did use Kris Bryant in the game, but only let him get one plate appearance on what was an off day for him.
In the end, that player usage led me to have to make a judge’s decision on what to do with Heroes and Goats for today. Tyler Chatwood was used as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. That was an occurrence so unusual that neither of the sources where we pull photos from got a picture of Tyler. Hence the photo in a road jersey from Tyler’s last late game hitting appearance. Chatwood doubled in the ninth inning with two on. That ends up being a huge WPA moment. Our ground rules say that we disregard WPA for a hitter when pitching or a pitcher when hitting. But here’s the deal. Tyler Chatwood threw four innings yesterday. There’s no way he was sent into the game as a pitcher and then just happened to hit. Tyler Chatwood was at the plate as a hitter. Tyler Chatwood (PH) will be awarded the Superhero award that he deserves as he delivered in a very clutch situation in a very big way.
Somehow, I’m guessing this won’t be the last time Tyler gets such an opportunity and if he enters the game (or any other pitcher does) solely to hit, then I’m going to count his performance accordingly.
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 48, May 23: Cubs 7, Phillies 9 (29-19)
- Superhero: Tyler Chatwood -PH (.184). Tyler had a double in his only at bat. It drove in a run and put the tying run on second base with only one out.
- Hero: Anthony Rizzo (.168). Anthony had a huge day at the plate with four hits in five at bats, including a solo homer. He scored three times and drove in three. Right now, Anthony has a career high slugging percentage (.571) and a career high tying wRC+ (155). Fangraphs has him at 1.9 WAR already. He had only 2.9 WAR last season.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.065). Willson had a hit and a walk in five plate appearances. He also struck out once.
- Honorable Mention: Kyle Schwarber (.064). Kyle gets dropped because of my judge’s decision. He had two hits and a walk. One of the the hits was a two-run homer. He scored twice. Kyle has a line of .269/.412/.500 (wRC+ 136) over 102 plate appearances from April 25 to present. He’s done that with a 19.6% walk rate and a 25.5% strikeout rate.
- Billy Goat: Jon Lester (-.332). Jon was knocked around for seven hits, one walk and seven runs (four earned) in just four innings of work. He did strike out five.
- Goat: Albert Almora Jr. (-.188). Albert was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice. The big one for Albert was the double play he grounded into in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Despite a run scoring, that really took the wind out of a promising rally and let Nola off of the hook. (-.095).
- Kid: Addison Russell (-.166). Addison came into this one late, got two at bats and struck out once. The strikeout followed Chatwood’s RBI-double in the ninth. In a situation where he really needed to put the ball in play and try to continue to pressure the Phillies, Addison struck out.
WPA Play of the Game: Tyler Chatwood’s double with one out and runners on first and second in the ninth inning. He cut the deficit to 9-7. (.184)
*Phillies Play of the Game: Hector Neris retired Victor Caratini and Addison Russell for the final two outs of the game. (.141)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 10
- Tyler Chatwood 8.5
- Jose Quintana 7
- Yu Darvish -7
- David Bote -8
- Carl Edwards Jr. -10
Tyler Chatwood’s hitting from yesterday now has a separate entry on my spreadsheet and is not included in the 8.5 that is registered by his pitching.
Up Next: The Cubs open a three game set with the Reds who took two out of three games from them in Cincinnati a little over a week ago. The Reds have actually alternated one win and one loss since May 15 and 16 when they won two straight from the Cubs. Most recently, they split a two game set with the Brewers in Milwaukee. Speaking of splitting games, the Reds have won five of 10, 10 of 20 and 15 of 30. That’s some remarkable even play. On the season they are 22-27 and sit 7½ games back in the division. They are 10-16 on the road.
Kyle Hendricks will get the nod in game one of the series. He is 4-4 with a 3.21 ERA in 56 innings on the season. He is 3-0 in May with a 1.47 ERA in 30⅔ innings over four starts. Last time out, he ran out of gas in the sixth inning in Washington. He threw 5⅔ innings and allowed six hits, two walks and four runs. He struck out four. He did face the Reds back on May 14 and threw eight innings allowing five hits, one unearned run and striking out seven. Oddly, that’s his one non-win start in May. Kyle made three starts against the Reds in 2018 and was 1-1 and allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 17⅔ innings. Current Reds have 201 plate appearances against Kyle. Tucker Barnhart leads the way with 35 of them (.558 OPS). One Red who absolutely wears out Kyle is Joey Votto (.429/.625/.905 with 11 walks and three home runs in 32 plate appearances).
Anthony DeSclafani will start for the Reds. Anthony is 2-2 with a 4.60 ERA in 45 innings on the season. The 29-year-old right-hander is coming off of a loss against the Dodgers. In that one, he threw four innings allowing six hits and four runs. He did strike out four, but allowed three home runs. He didn’t face the Cubs in the last series. He did face the Cubs twice in 2018. In those starts, he was 1-1 and allowed seven runs (six earned) in 12⅓ innings of work.
Anthony has allowed a .561 OPS in 98 plate appearances against right-handed hitters but a 1.034 OPS in 94 plate appearances against left-handed hitters. This could be another good day for Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo. Of course, looking at the splits, Anthony Rizzo has 27 of the 115 Cub PA against DeSclafani. In those 27 PA, he does have one homer but only a .167 batting average and .556 OPS. Willson Contreras and Javier Baez each have two hits including one home run off of Anthony in six and five plate appearances respectively.
Let’s get back in the win column today!
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