Ho hum. Any news around Wrigley Field yesterday? What a crazy day. One to the injured list, one to the restricted list, two fresh bodies in, including the controversial return of Addison Russell to the major league team. I’m going to be very clear in this space. I’m only going to talk about Addison Russell between the lines. I don’t want to discuss his presence on the team in this forum or any of that. This is a results-based space and when Russell contributes in one direction or the other to that, we’ll talk about it. None of us made the call to bring him up or even to keep him on the team. But he’s here now. He’s wearing Cubbie Blue. So let’s hope for whatever amount of time that he is here, he contributes positively to this team winning.
Kyle Hendricks had another superb outing. But for his own first inning error, he might have even gotten to try for back-to-back complete games. That would have been a real oddity in today’s games. I’ve talked about it for a few years that Kyle is a second half pitcher. Michael Cerami had this tweet before his start last week against the Cardinals which was perfectly timed:
Kyle Hendricks has a history of turning things around - rather dramatically after his first five starts of the season. Today would be that day. pic.twitter.com/Tq398BkL4y— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 3, 2019
Kyle has started that second five starts of 2019 with 17 innings and only one unearned run. For whatever reason, some players are like clockwork. Kyle is one of those. He gets better feel for his stuff as the season moves along. May has been a good month for him and then typically he cools off a little bit in June and then really gets into full gear from July until the end of the season. Let’s hope that continues to be true.
Jason Heyward was next up for a walkoff home run. Jason has cooled down a bit lately, so that one had to feel good again. Hopefully he can get hot again. The Cubs may need Jason at the top of the lineup for a while against right-handed pitching.
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 34, May 8: Cubs 3, Marlins 2 (21-13)
- Superhero: Kyle Hendricks (.441). Kyle threw eight innings and only five hits. He didn’t walk anyone for the second straight start. He recorded seven strikeouts.
- Hero: Jason Heyward (.307). Just one lousy hit. Oh yeah, it was a walkoff home run. Over 69 plate appearances starting on April 17, Jason has a line of .224/.348/.379 (wRC+ 97, BABIP .256). He’s still producing relatively at league average during this stretch. His BB% is 14.5% over that stretch and his K% is at 18.8%. Those are just a tick off of his full season rate (15.6, 14.8). His BABIP is down during the stretch which could be interpreted either as a bit of a slump or even as just a little bad luck.
- Sidekick: Anthony Rizzo (.189). Anthony had two hits, both singles, in four at bats. He scored one of the Cubs three runs.
- Billy Goat: David Bote (-.221). After his two-homer game in Arizona, the Cubs argued for more playing time for David. So far, the result has been 36 plate appearances with a .156/.222/.219 line (wRC+ 19, BABIP .208). It’s a very small sample, but this is a pretty deep slump (8.3% BB, 25% K over that stretch). Last night, David grounded into a double play in the second (-.083) and grounded into a fielder’s choice at home in the fourth (-.063) on his way to four hitless at bats.
- Goat: Kyle Ryan (-.115). Kyle faced one batter and allowed a single. That run scored to tie the game in the ninth inning. I suspect Kyle is closing in on being roster crunched out of the major leagues and coming up short a couple of times in this series certainly hasn’t helped his cause.
- Kid: Javier Baez (-.105). Javy is in a bit of a Heroes and Goats slump. Seven of his last nine appearances in this space are on the negative side. Javy did have an RBI single in his four at bats last night. He did ground into a double play in the first (-.121) but I was still a little surprised to see him here.
WPA Play of the Game: A walk-off is virtually guaranteed to land in this spot. This was no exception. Jason Heyward’s was worth .367.
*Marlins Play of the Game: Steve Cishek’s wild pitch in the ninth inning with runners on first and second and one out. (.168) As always, we can’t know what happened, but it is very possible this game doesn’t go extras without this wild pitch.
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: The two teams conclude this four game set and their season seven game set. The Cubs have won five of six overall and two of three in this series. The Cubs have won nine of 10 and would like to push that to 10 of 11. The Marlins will be looking to avoid a third straight loss. They’ve lost eight of 10.
The Cubs are hoping that Yu Darvish can bounce back after a rough start last time. On the season Yu is 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA in 32⅔ innings of work. Last time out he was knocked around by the Cardinals for five hits, five walks, and six runs in just four innings of work. Yu did face the Marlins a few weeks ago in Miami. In that one he threw 5⅔ innings and allowed four hits, four walks and two runs while striking out eight. He got the win for those efforts. He also faced the Marlins in Miami during the season opening series. That one went less well. He threw 4⅓ innings and allowed five hits, two walks and five runs. The Marlins have just 65 plate appearances against Yu. As has been the case all series long, the two Marlins with the most experience against all of the Cubs pitchers have been Curtis Granderson (16 PA, .258 OPS) and Neil Walker (12 PA, .606 OPS).
Trevor Richards will be looking for his first win of the season for the Marlins. The 26-year-old right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 37⅓ innings of work. Last time out he pitched pretty well in a game at home against the Braves. He threw 4⅓ innings and allowed two hits, and three walks. He didn’t allow any runs and struck out three. He started the game that Darvish pitched in Miami and threw 4⅔ innings and allowed four hits, four walks and five runs. That’s a nifty feat without allowing any home runs. The Cubs have a grand total of 24 plate appearances against Richards with an odd looking line of .235/.458/.412.
Let’s hope that A) the weather permits this game to be played and B) that the Cubs finish the series with a third straight win. And if I can be greedy, maybe this one won’t require a walkoff to do it?
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