It’s good to be back from a brief hiatus for a family vacation. Originally, I’d hoped to be back Sunday morning, which would have ended up perfect timing given the dramatic win on Saturday night. Unfortunately, I was at Newark Airport planning to fly home Saturday afternoon when a plane rolled off of the runway and shut down most of the airport and cancelling our flight. I’ll separately write up an overview of the games from June 4 through Saturday night. That will also include our usual complete Heroes and Goats standings, but we’ll skip the other statistics this time around.
Getting to the on field action, the Dodgers and Cubs played four pretty good games over the weekend in what could be a playoff preview for a couple of teams that have been regular playoff participants. Unfortunately, the Dodgers got the better end of things in three out of the four games, including last night’s game.
That Dodgers team is one scary team and is going to be a tough out come playoff time. That said, it doesn’t take a great deal of mental gymnastics to imagine the Cubs winning at least one and maybe two or more games in the season series (won by the Dodgers four games to three). It would be hard not to make the Dodgers the favorite if the two teams were to meet in the playoffs right now. But so much can change over time and even if things stay relatively the same, favorites certainly don’t always win.
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 71, June 16: Cubs 2 at Dodgers 3 (39-32)
- Superhero: Brandon Kintzler (.174). Brandon was summoned with runners on second and third and no outs in the sixth inning. The score was tied at two and the Dodgers were threatening to blow the game wide open. He essentially faced only two hitters and struck them both out. They were sandwiched around an intentional walk. If the Cubs had won this game, this would have been one of the key performances for sure.
- Hero: Albert Almora Jr. (.166). Albert had three hits in four at bats, representing a third of the Cubs hits. Unfortunately, he got a terrible jump when trying to score on an infield grounder in the ninth inning and was thrown out at the plate.
- Sidekick: Willson Contreras (.114). Willson had two hits and an RBI in four at bats. His RBI single in the sixth was a very nice piece of hitting.
- Billy Goat: Jose Quintana (-.307). Jose wasn’t all that bad, but he was touched for six hits and three walks in five innings of work. He allowed two runs. He struck out three. After a difficult first inning, Jose was mostly decent against a very potent offense.
- Goat: Victor Caratini (-.285). Vic pinch hit in the ninth inning with runners on first and third. He hit a grounder back to the pitcher. Almora was thrown out at the plate.
- Kid: Steve Cishek (-.197). Steve threw 1⅓ innings and allowed a hit, a walk and a run. He struck out one. Once Craig Kimbrel is on the team, one of the benefits of that addition will be that Pedro Strop could have been used instead of trying to get two innings out of Steve.
WPA Play of the Game: The Victor Caratini pinch-hit at bat was the largest play of the game by WPA. (.285)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Willson Contreras singled to right with two on and one out in the sixth inning to tie the score at one. (.169)
*Dodgers Play of the Game: Russell Martin’s single with a runner on second and one out in the eighth provided the winning run. (.231) I saw this summed perfectly elsewhere. It was a terrible send by the Dodgers that was bailed out by a bad throw home. We’ve seen the Cubs do the same thing any number of times. You pressure the defense to make the play. The reason for that aggression is plays like this one. The decision was surely made even easier given that a natural third baseman was playing left field.
Cumulative Standings Top/Bottom 3:
- Kris Bryant 14
- Anthony Rizzo 13
- Willson Contreras 6
- Brad Brach -7
- Carl Edwards Jr. -9
- Jason Heyward -14
I’ll dive into the standings in more detail in a separate piece, but as you may notice there have been wholesale changes to the standings.
Up Next: The Cubs’ seemingly unending stretch of games takes a brief pause today. The Cubs are off today. They won’t be off again until July 5. They were last off May 30. It gets old complaining about it, but one of the contributors to the uneven play by the Cubs this season is the scheduling. It makes literally no sense that the players and owners collectively bargained extra days off into the season. It was used largely to provide extra time off in April and early May. No strain was reduced from the heart of the season. This is probably a larger thought for a separate discussion at a different time, but so far the added time seems completely pointless.
Tuesday night the Cubs will meet the White Sox for the first time this year. The Cubs return home where they are 24-11. The Sox are just 14-19 on the road (34-36 overall). The Sox just split a four-game set with the Yankees and a six-game homestand. They did drop the last two games of the Yankees series and so they will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.
The Cubs will start Cole Hamels. Cole is 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 84⅔ innings on the season. Cole was brilliant last time out, throwing seven scoreless innings in Colorado. He picked up a win in a game in which he allowed six hits, one walk and struck out nine. Over his last seven starts, Hamels is 3-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 42 innings. Cole faced the White Sox once as a member of the Rangers last year and it didn’t go well at all. He allowed nine hits and seven runs in just five innings of work. He did strike out seven. Current White Sox have just 50 plate appearances against Hamels. Jose Abreu has nine plate appearances with a 1.444 OPS (including a triple and a homer).
Ivan Nova is the White Sox starter. I realized exactly how little attention I pay to the White Sox when I didn’t realize Nova was even on their team. Ivan is 3-5 with a 6.28 ERA on 77⅓ innings on the season. Over his last seven starts, Nova is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA. He’s coming off of a start against the Yankees. In that one, he threw 5⅔ innings and allowed six hits, two walks and four runs. He struck out five. Nova made four starts against the Cubs in 2018 and was 2-1 in them. He allowed 11 runs, 10 earned in 23⅓ innings. Current Cubs have 172 plate appearances against Ivan. Jason Heyward has the most PA (22, .909 OPS). Anthony Rizzo (17, 1.004 OPS), Carlos Gonzalez (15, 1.183) and Willson Contreras (11, 1.000) have all hit Nova hard. (Ian Happ is a little sadder than usual this week. He has three homers in 20 PA against him and a 1.022 OPS).
This matchup looks extremely favorable on paper.
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Albert Almora Jr.
Other (please leave your suggestion in the comments)