After winning seven in a row and looking at four upcoming games against the Marlins, eight of nine is a mild disappointment. But taking a step back, eight of nine is awesome. The Cubs were given the gift of seven early games against the Marlins and they’ve made the most of it with a 4-1 start. They were also given seven very early off days. There was only one thing that was called for with that early season schedule. Win early and win often. The Cubs didn’t nail the winning early thing, but they have indeed won often to this point.
On paper, the Tuesday night game was going to be the most difficult one in the series. So often in baseball what’s on paper doesn’t come true. But this one did live up to its billing. Each team’s best pitcher to date threw very effectively. Jon Lester threw six innings and didn’t allow a single earned run. Smith pitched into the seventh and was charged with two earned runs. The bullpens battled into the ninth in tie at two.
The Cubs got the first two men on base and then like a slow-moving train wreck, the next two Cubs were retired in order. That left it down to Kris Bryant. Kris gets a bad wrap for his clutch hitting and to be fair, for whatever reason, to date that hasn’t been his strong suit. Kris does have an OPS of .835 in his career with two outs and runners in scoring position. In situations deemed late and close by Baseball Reference though, that drops to .758. This from a player with an .899 career OPS. In high leverage situations (again per Baseball Reference), he has an .817 OPS. There is a reason that Kris has generally done poorly in Heroes and Goats.
To be fair, in his rookie season when he batted fourth plenty, he was a high performer. So at least some of his poor placement in this space is due to his position in the batting order. Regardless of the case, regardless of the history, on Tuesday night, Kris Bryant was the unquestionable Superhero. At least in my book (I know at least a few of you will vote for someone else in the poll below and as always I welcome that and your input).
The Cubs are back in first place. Hopefully, they can close this series out with two more wins and maybe at least one of those can be of the comfortable variety if I can be greedy. It would be nice to have a game or so of cushion before another series with the Brewers.
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 33, May 7: Cubs 5, Marlins 2 (20-13)
- Superhero: Kris Bryant (.308). Warm it up Kris! Two stinkin’ hits last night. Oh yeah, one was a triple, the other a homer. He scored both times and drove in the three RBI that won the game. I guess that’s pretty good. (That since April 19 line? Up to .286/.438/.696.)
- Hero: Steve Cishek (.133). One scoreless inning and it was the ninth inning. He did allow one hit, but he struck out two. He got the win for his troubles.
- Sidekick: Kyle Schwarber (.110). Kyle reached base twice in four plate appearances. Once via walk and the other via a very key hit by pitch in the ninth inning. He struck out in the other two. He actually scored the winning run.
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.160). Bote was hitless in four at bats. He struck out twice. One of those outs ended the eighth with two on. (-.088)
- Goat: Albert Almora Jr. (-.099). He actually had two hits, including a solo homer. He scored twice. He grounded into a fielder’s choice just ahead of Bryant’s walk-off. That took away all the WPA he’d earned with his early homer and then some (-.207).
- Kid: Anthony Rizzo (-.089). Rizzo’s been smoking hot, but last night he managed only one walk in four plate appearances and struck out twice. Did I mention Caleb Smith pitched a really strong game?
WPA Play of the Game: Kris Bryant’s walk-off three-run homer with two outs in the ninth. (.365)
*Marlins Play of the Game: The Almora fielder’s choice just ahead of the walk-off. (.207)
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Willson Contreras 9
- Jon Lester/Jose Quintana 7
- Carl Edwards Jr. -8
- Yu Darvish -9
- Albert Almora Jr. -12.5
Up Next: Game three of the four game set. The Cubs will be looking for a ninth win in 10 games. The Marlins will look to hold off being the first MLB team to 26 losses for at least one more day.
The Cubs send Kyle Hendricks to the mound. He is 2-4 with a 3.93 ERA. Of course he’s coming off of his best start of the season and one of the best of his career. Last Friday he threw a complete game shutout against the rival St. Louis Cardinals, who at that time were in first place. He allowed only four hits and no walks (and only one three ball count on his way to making only 81 pitches). He pitched twice against the Marlins in 2018 and did quite well against them. He was 1-0 and allowed only three runs in 14 innings of work. Going back further, in his last five starts against the Marlins he is 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA in 35⅓ innings of work. The Marlins have a grand total of 84 plate appearances against him. The usual culprits for the Marlins are at the top. Neil Walker (16, .822 OPS), Curtis Granderson (14, .670), Martin Prado (13, .397). As a whole the team has a .629 OPS against him.
The Marlins will counter with Jose Urena. The right-handed pitcher is 1-5 with a 5.45 ERA in 39⅔ innings of work. He hasn’t won since April 20 against the Nationals in Miami. Last time out he faced the Braves in Miami and was touched for six hits, three walks and five runs in six innings of work. He faced the Cubs twice in 2018 and was 0-1 and allowed eight runs in just 9⅓ innings of work. Pulling back to his last five against the Cubs, he is 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA in 26⅓ innings of work. The Cubs have a total of 92 plate appearances from players on the 40-man roster against Urena. Kris Bryant (15, .689) and Anthony Rizzo (11, 1.509) lead the way unsurprisingly. Ian Happ is probably a little extra sad not to be up with the big club today as he had two homers and a double in only 10 at bats against Urena.
Maybe, just maybe, this can be an easy one?
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed