Originally, this piece would have run on this coming Monday’s day off. Unfortunately, there is no longer a day off on Monday. In what was already a long string of games, the Cubs now have one game against the Angels on Monday. This is a makeup game from the snowed out April 14 game. This game would have followed the “check swing” game when the Cubs lost following a somewhat questionable (not-)checked swing by Kyle Schwarber with runners on base.
This nine-game stretch started promisingly with two straight wins against the Phillies. Since that time, the Cubs are 2-7. A stretch that mirrors the first nine games of the season and once again includes losing two out of three games in a series in Texas. The Cubs bounced back from that one and I can’t say enough that they’ll bounce back from this one as well.
As usual for this piece, we’ll take a look at the Cumulative Standings for Heroes and Goats which will always be the centerpiece of this space. Then we’ll take a look at team statistics and rankings for hitting, pitching and defense to see how things are trending.
First things first, we’ll take a look at the cumulative standings for Heroes and Goats. As a reminder, Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA. The highest WPA will be the Superhero. A superhero is worth +3 points in the cumulative standings. Second place is the Hero and that is worth +2 points and third place is the Sidekick and that is worth +1 points. On the other side of the ledger, last place is the Billy Goat and that’s worth -3 points. Second and third to last are the Goat and the Kid which are worth -2 and -1 points respectively.
Year to Date Total (change since last full standings)
(# = returned to minors, * = injured list, @ = restricted list)
- Anthony Rizzo 14.5 (+15)
- Willson Contreras 9.5 (-1.5)
- Tyler Chatwood 8.5 (+1)
- Kris Bryant 7 (+1)
- Javier Baez 5 (-2)
- Jose Quintana 4 (0)
- Kyle Hendricks 4 (+3)
- Victor Caratini 3 (0)
- Tyler Chatwood - PH 3 (+3)
- Steve Cishek 3 (-1)
- @Ben Zobrist 2.5 (0)
- Addison Russell 2 (-2)
- Mike Montgomery 1 (0)
- *Xavier Cedeno 1 (0)
- Daniel Descalso 1 (0)
- David Bote 0 (+8)
- Dillon Maples -.5 (0)
- #Taylor Davis -.5 (0)
- Jon Lester -1 (-6)
- Brad Brach -1 (-2)
- #Mark Zagunis -1 (0)r
- *Allen Webster -2 (0)
- #Randy Rosario -2 (0)
- Cole Hamels -4 (-6)
- Albert Almora Jr. -5.5 (+2)
- Brandon Kintzler -5.5 (-3)
- *Pedro Strop -6.5 (0)
- Jason Heyward -7 (-3)
- Kyle Schwarber -8.5 (-3.5)
- Yu Darvish -10 (-3)
- Carl Edwards Jr. -10 (0)
Anthony Rizzo moves to the top with a +15 score over just nine games. Willson Contreras who enjoyed a good long run at the top is still lurking in second place, but Anthony Rizzo has been a Heroes and Goats beast throughout the years of this series. In 2014 he finished 1st (47.5), in 2015 he finished 1st (65.5), in 2016 he finished 3rd (34.5), in 2017 he finished 1st (38), and in 2018 he finished in a tie for 4th (16). At one third of the way through the season, he is on pace for another season over the 50 mark at 53.5. Not to be lost in the shuffle, David Bote also had a +8 over the nine games and has rocketed from near the bottom to the middle of the pack.
On the negative side of things, Yu Darvish and Carl Edwards Jr. are tied for last. A pair of Cubs starters are moving in entirely the wrong direction. Cole Hamels and Jon Lester each had two starts and two Billy Goats for a -6 score. That moves both of the pitchers into negative territory. Generally, when all things are going well, your starting pitchers gravitate towards the top. Three of the five starters being in negative territory is not everything going well.
31 different players have appeared in Heroes and Goats so far this season. Four Cubs have played in games but not yet appeared in H&G. They are Tim Collins, Rowan Wick, Jim Adduci and James Norwood. Adduci is actually still on the team as of the end of the Astros series, so he at least presently still has a chance. Alec Mills spent time on the roster but did not appear in any games and thus had no chance of appearing in H&G.
- Average: .257 was .257 (4th NL, 9th MLB)
- On Base: .346 was .345 (2nd NL, 3rd MLB)
- Slugging: .462 was .451 (2nd NL, 4th MLB)
- OPS: .808 was .796 (2nd NL, 4th MLB)
- Runs/game: 5.33 was 5.38 (2nd NL, 6th MLB)
This is a whole mixed bag. The Cubs were getting on base more and hitting for more power. Yet they scored less runs. It’s been talked about elsewhere, but the Cubs have had a rough stretch of production with runners on base. In general, if the Cubs continue to get on base at an elite rate and now also slug at an elite rate, there will be a lot of runs scored this summer by the Cubs.
- Hits/9: 8.5 was 8.0 (8th NL, 16th MLB)
- Walks/9: 3.8 was 3.9 (13th NL, 24th MLB)
- HR/9: 1.1 was 1.1 (1st NL, 2nd MLB)
- K/9: 8.7 was 8.9 (10th NL, 17th MLB)
- Runs allowed/game: 4.39 was 4.09 (4th NL, 9th MLB)
The team allowed more hits and more runs while striking out less batters. None of those are great trends. However, the team continues to not allow homers and now has made some progress in regards to walks allowed. If the Cubs can maintain their crazy low home run rate and also allow less walks, those things should actually bode pretty well. However, if they aren’t going to strike out more hitters, then the defense is going to have to be better than it has been. Hopefully more Addison Russell and less Daniel Descalso will help that.
Cubs starters have had 46% quality starts (down from 49%) and an average game score of 52 (down from 54). Cubs relievers have converted 50% of their saves (down from 53%) and have allowed 31% of inherited runners to score (up from 30%). None of these numbers are trending in the right direction. Pretty much all of these numbers work hand in hand. As the starters perform better and get deeper into the game, reliever work gets much easier. So it is unsurprising that while the starters struggled so did the under-manned bullpen.
- Errors: 42 was 36 (15th NL, T26th MLB)
- Defensive Efficiency [percentage of balls in play turned into outs]: .682 was .692 (12th NL, 23rd MLB).
Once again, unsurprisingly, this number moves in the same direction as the pitching numbers. For whatever reason, over the last nine games more balls have been finding holes than gloves.
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