Yuck. That’s about all I have to say about that game. I’m not ready to start breaking out the old “everything is going to be all right” lyrics. This team remains in first place, even if the team didn’t feel a lot like a first place on this homestand. With Sunday’s 10-2 loss, the Cubs have wrapped a 3-4 homestand. That definitely feels disappointing.
The fun isn’t ready to stop either as there is no off day ahead of a three game set in Houston against a, once again, very good Astros team. At least there is finally an off day on Thursday after playing every day but one since May 3. The Cubs are 13-9 over that stretch. Therefore, even if disaster strikes, they’ll finish this stretch above .500. Of course, this team is good enough it doesn’t aim for just .500 in any stretch of games.
I’m going to remain an advocate for dropping a sixth starter in when the team is playing 22 games in 23 days. In the current consecutive games played stretch, the Cubs have played 13 straight games now. In the last three games, the Cubs have allowed six, six and 10 runs. In my opinion, in any stretch of games longer than 10, a sixth starter should be dropped in. If the Cubs hadn’t felt comfortable with a Tyler Chatwood/Mike Montgomery piggyback in the middle of the stretch, they could have made the Mark Zagunis move for a starter, then sent the starter back down for a reliever the next day. A move they eventually made anyway because the bullpen was worn down. The bullpen is worn down because the starters are worn down and had been making shorter starts until Yu Darvish was basically asked to fall on his sword.
Not quite as long a stretch, but Anthony Rizzo reached the podium on Sunday. Spoiler alert, he actually reached the Superhero spot. That is notable for two reasons. First, it marked the 10th consecutive time he has reached a podium. Second, it is his first Superhero spot over that stretch. This is the eighth consecutive positive podium for Anthony and he has now moved into a tie for first in the season standings. The 10 games are the 10 games he’s played in since returning from missing four games with an injury. May 11 was the last game Anthony played in and wasn’t on the podium. That game ended a stretch of five straight podium appearances for Anthony. So 15 of the last 16 games Anthony has played in, he appeared on the podium.
Heroes and Goats in general favors starting pitchers and those who bat second through fifth in the order. Presently, the top six in the standings includes the Cubs most frequent second, third, fourth, and fifth hitters, a starting pitcher and one swing reliever who has done everything from starting pitching to long relief to a one inning save (and also pinch hitting, though I’m not including that in his season numbers).
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 51, May 26: Cubs 2, Reds 10 (30-21)
- Superhero: Anthony Rizzo (.037). Anthony had two hits and a hit by pitch in four plate appearances.
- Hero: Javier Baez (.021). I pointed out that Javier has been slumping a bit of late. So he went out and had three hits in four at bats. Included was a home run. Still, from May 18 to present, just 28 plate appearances, Javy is hitting .231/.286/.500 (wRC+ 103). Javy has become such an enormous star that even when he’s slumping, it isn’t that big of a slump.
- Sidekick: David Bote (.019). David had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances.
- Billy Goat: Jose Quintana (-.202). Jose got knocked around pretty good, allowing 12 hits, a walk and five runs in 5⅓ innings. See my comments above about all of the consecutive games and the starting rotation.
- Goat/Kid: Kyle Schwarber/Willson Contreras (-.075). Kyle was hitless in five at bats and struck out three times. Willson? He had two hits including a solo homer in four at bats. This is an odd placing. He made the last out in the first with runners on first and second (-.043), then his single in the third inning ended up being the final out when Anthony Rizzo was thrown out trying to score (-.043). Then the Cubs were losing 7-0 before his homer, so it was only worth (.013).
WPA Play of the Game: Eugenio Suarez had an RBI single after the first two Reds singled to start the game. (.090).
*Cubs Play of the Game: Jose Iglesias grounded into a double play with no outs and the bases loaded in the first. This made it 2-0, but deflated their rally. (.059)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras/Anthony Rizzo 11.5
- Tyler Chatwood 8.5
- Kyle Schwarber -9.5
- Yu Darvish/Carl Edwards Jr. -10
Up Next: The Cubs are in Houston to face the Astros. The Astros are 35-19 and sit in first place in the American League West. They’ve slowed down a little bit of late and have only won six of 10. They’ve won 15 of 20 though, so they were smoking hot before that. They are 20-7 at home, so this is going to be a tall order to get things back on track. The Astros have already been at home for seven games. Their homestand began by splitting four games with the White Sox. Then they took two out of three from the Red Sox. Perhaps the Cubs should be the Blue Sox for this series?
Cole Hamels will get tonight’s start. Cole is 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 58⅔ innings. Last time out, he only lasted four innings against the Phillies, though he did make 99 pitches in that time. He allowed nine hits, two walks and three runs in the four innings. He did not get a decision in the game. Before being traded to the National League last year, Cole made four starts against the Astros. He was 1-2 and allowed 10 runs in 25 innings of work. Current Astros have 187 plate appearances against Cole, led by the injured Jose Altuve (34 PA, .775 OPS). Jose is on a rehab stint on his way back from an injured list stint. George Springer has been the most successful Astro against Hamels (.971 OPS in 32 PA with a weird .174/.406/.565 line. George just went to the IL himself, so the Cubs will miss two of the Astros top offensive stars. That leaves Carlos Correa whom Cole has really stifled (.383 OPS in 25 PA including seven strike outs).
Gerrit Cole makes the start for the Astros. Gerrit is 4-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 65⅔ innings. Gerrit lost his last start against the White Sox. He threw five innings in that one and allowed seven hits, a walk and six runs. He did strike out seven. Over his last seven, Cole is trending in the wrong direction with just a 3-3 record and a 4.65 ERA. But those numbers are going to likely look a lot better the next time around because there is one start in there that’s going to roll off. That start was against the Rangers and he allowed nine runs (eight earned) in just 4⅓ innings. Texas seems to be a really tough place to pitch...
Gerrit hasn’t faced the Cubs since 2017 due to moving to the American League. The Cubs saw him three times that year. He was 1-1 and allowed only two runs in 21 innings. Cubs bats are not exactly salivating to see Cole on the other side. Current Cubs have 184 plate appearances against Gerrit with a .551 OPS. Anthony Rizzo has the most PA (.707 OPS). Jason Heyward has really struggled against Gerrit (31 PA .450 OPS). Kyle Schwarber has the highest OPS against Cole with a .779 in 16 PA including a walk and one very memorable post season home run.
It’s interesting that this game matches up two pitchers who have switched leagues and thus have familiarity with the other team despite being in different leagues. The Astros are always going to be a tough game. Maybe with some injury issues the Cubs may be able to sneak out two. (A guy can dream.)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
There really wasn’t one...
But Javy did have three hits, including a homer!
Oh and Vic Caratini gave the relievers an inning off?